Tsetse have been extensively studied because of their disease transmission. These flies are multivoltine, typically producing about four generations yearly, and up to 31 generations total over their entire lifespan.
Tsetse are crudely similar to other large flies, such as the housefly, but can be distinguished by various characteristics of their anatomy, two of which are easy to observe. Tsetse fold their wings completely when they are resting so that one wing rests directly on top of the other over their abdomen. Tsetse also have a long proboscis, which extends directly forward and is attached by a distinct bulb to the bottom of their head.
Fossilized tsetse have been recovered from the Florissant Fossil Beds in Colorado, laid down some 34 million years ago. There are 23 species of tsetse flies. Diseases transmitted by tsetse flies kill 250,000–300,000 people per year.
The band Wall of Voodoo recorded the song "Tse Tse Fly" on their album Dark Continent.
In the 21st episode of Entourage "Exodus", Ari Gold uses the phrase "Tsetse Fly" to indicate that he is leaving his agency and invites other agents to join him. Ari mentions the phrase to some agents, who pass on the message by mentioning it to other agents. In a cruel twist of fate, one agent that Ari had belittled in the past, Adam Davies, sells out Ari instead of passing on the message. Ari is left without any support in his rebellion and is fired. Since the airing of the episode on August 28, 2005, the phrase "Tsetse Fly" has been adopted in business as a signal of disharmony within the organisation. Many businesses were 'stung' by the Tsetse Fly during the Global Financial Crisis.