Flying is a challenging task and can prove fatal to insects. The question is, can flies die of exhaustion? They cannot fly for long periods of time. The reason behind this is that they are sensitive to environmental changes and can suffer acute pain. For example, fruit flies react to extreme temperature, heat, or cold. In addition, they can be killed by light pollution.
Fly flight times are dependent on the day’s light/dark cycle. Flies typically seek shelter on tall grass, twigs, and tree trunks in the evening. They do not like to stay on the ground, except to rest during the day. They need a comfortable place to rest and a secure place to grip. Otherwise, they risk being eaten by hungry birds or frogs.
The research also showed that flies can sleep for five to 15 minutes a day – a fraction of what humans do. Unlike humans, flies’ eyes have evolved to capture light through a string-like structure. This structure is horizontal to the path of light through their eye and reacts mechanically to the light. In comparison, the eyes of vertebrates are long, tube-like structures that face the light.
Interestingly, flies have the ability to survive without sleep if the conditions are right. Researchers found that sleep-deprived fruit flies had a higher risk of dying from exhaustion and exhibited greater levels of cell damage and increased ROS. When the flies recovered from their sleep deprivation, the level of ROS decreased dramatically. This finding opened up new avenues for understanding the effects of insufficient sleep, as well as determining the best ways to counteract its damaging effects.