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Most species are not synanthropic. Adults can be predatory, hematophagous, saprophagous, or feed on a number of types of plant and animal exudates. They can be attracted to various substances including sugar, sweat, tears  and blood. Larvae occur in various habitats including decaying vegetation, dry and wet soil, nests of insects and birds, fresh water, and carrion.
The housefly, Musca domestica, is the best known and most important species.
The antennae are three-segmented and aristate; vein Rs is two-branched, a frontal suture is present, and the calypters are well developed. The arista is usually plumose for the entire length. The hypopleuron is usually without bristles; generally, more than one sternopleural bristle is present. The R5 cell is either parallel-sided or narrowed distally. Vein 2A is short and does not reach the wing margin.
For a pictorial atlas explaining these terms, go to 
The Fanniidae, which used to be a subfamily (Fanniinae) of the Muscidae, share these characters, but may be separated from them by the absence of the identifying characteristics for the family Fanniidae.
Larvae mainly develop in decaying plant material or manure.
Association with disease
Seven species in six described genera have been recorded from the fossil record. Lambrecht (1980: 369) estimated that the family Muscidae originated as long ago as the Permian, although no fossil record exists for the family any older than the Eocene.
- Hennig, W. (1955–64). Muscidae in Erwin Lindner, Die Fliegen der Paläarktischen Region 63b,Schweizerbart,Stuttgart.
- Huckett, H.C. 1965. The Muscidae of northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland (Diptera). Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada 42: 1-369. 23 plates of drawings.
- Séguy, E., 1937, Diptera, family Muscidae. In: P. Wystmann (ed.), Genera Insectorum, Brussels, 205: 604. Includes a key to world genera.
- Shinonaga, S. & Kano, R., 1971, Fauna Japonica Muscidae (Insecta:Diptera), Academia press,242pp.+28Plates. Keys to Eastern Palaearctic genera of several subfamilies.
- Gregor, Fr. et al., 2002 The Muscidae (Diptera) of Central Europe, Brno, Folia Biologia, 107.
- Use of DNA in forensic entomology
- Skidmore, P., 1985, The biology of the Muscidae of the world. Junk, Dordrecht. Series entomologica, 29, xiv + 550p.
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