The Secret Life of Flies

Hardback - April 2017 - AU $29.95

Enter a hidden world of snail killers, silly names and crazy sex lives.

In The Secret Life of Flies entomologist Erica McAlister gets under the wings of these crucial creatures as she adventures into the land of the fly. From hungry herbivores and precocious pollinators to robber flies, danceflies and the much maligned mosquito, she describes the different types of fly, their unique and often unusual characteristics, and the unpredictable nature of their daily life. + Full description

Erica travels from the drawers of wonder at the Natural History Museum, London to the mountains of Peru, via underground caves, smelly latrines and the English country garden. She discovers flies without wings, eyes on stalks, rotating genitalia and the terrible hairy fly, while pausing along the way to consider today’s key issues of conservation, taxonomy, forensic entomology and climate change.

Combining her deep knowledge and love of flies with a wonderful knack for storytelling, Erica McAlister allows us to peer – amazed and captivated – into the secret life of flies.

The Secret Life of Flies is suited to insect lovers and natural history enthusiasts.

- Short description


Listen to author Erica McAlister discuss fly facts in Episode 156 of the No Such Thing As A Fish podcast (external link).

Sales in Australia and New Zealand only. Elsewhere, this title is available through The Natural History Museum.


Hardback | April 2017 | $ 29.95
ISBN: 9781486308026 | 256 pages | 200 x 130 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Colour illustrations


  • Engaging read that gets under the wings of these crucial creatures.
  • Fascinating stories, adventures and science from the world of flies.
  • Written by Erica McAlister, Curator of Diptera at the Natural History Museum, London, and presenter of the popular BBC Radio 4 series Who’s the Pest?


Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 The Immature Ones (Maggots)
Chapter 3 The Pollinators
Chapter 4 The Detritivores (feeders on dead material)
Chapter 5 The Coprohages (dung/faeces eaters)
Chapter 6 The Necrophages (feeders on dead animals)
Chapter 7 The Vegetarians
Chapter 8 The Fungi Feeders
Chapter 9 The Predators
Chapter 10 The Parasites
Chapter 11 The Sanguivores
Chapter 12 The End


Entomologist Erica McAlister is a curator of diptera at the Natural History Museum, London. All through her life Erica has been interested in the little things – from her early fascination with decomposing cat spoils and their maggot fauna, to picking fleas off cats to study them jumping under a microscope. Erica has studied in France, Australia and Costa Rica and her work with diptera has taken her all around the world. She was also a presenter on the popular BBC Radio 4 series Who’s the Pest?