It is the most common of all domestic flies, accounting for about 90% of all flies in human habitations. The adults are 8–12 mm long. Their thorax is gray, with four longitudinal dark lines on the back. The whole body is covered with hair-like projections. The females are slightly larger than the males, and have a much larger space between their red compound eyes. Maggots hatch from eggs; they live and feed in (usually dead and decaying) organic material, such as garbage or feces. They are pale-whitish, 3–9 mm long, thinner at the mouth end, and have no legs.
Houseflies feed on feces, open sores, sputum, and moist decaying organic matter such as spoiled food, eggs and flesh. Houseflies can take in only liquid foods. They spit out saliva on solid foods to predigest it, and then suck it back in. They also regurgitate partly digested matter and pass it again to the abdomen.