The sensitivity and accuracy of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) was compared with that of the pteridine fluorescence technique for estimating the chronological age of house flies, Musca domestica (L.). Although results with both techniques were significantly correlated with fly age, confidence limits on predicted ages generally were smaller with NIRS. Young flies could be readily differentiated from old flies by using NIRS. Age predictions using the pteridine method are dependent upon size, sex, and temperature at which adult flies are exposed. In contrast, those factors do not need to be determined for age-grading using NIRS. Classification accuracy using the NIRS method was similar for whole flies, fresh heads, dried heads, and ethanol-preserved heads. The NIRS method was also suitable for predicting age of stable flies, Stomoxys calcitrans (L.), and face flies, Musca autumnalis De Geer. NIRS has several advantages over the measurement of pteridine levels for age-grading field-collected flies, including speed and portability of instrumentation, and not needing to determine sex, size, and temperatures to which adult flies were exposed.
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