Green Bottle Fly: Quick and Essential Guide

The green bottle fly, scientifically known as Lucilia sericata, is a common and widespread fly species. Often found near decomposing matter, these insects play a crucial role in recycling nutrients and breaking down organic matter in nature.

These metallic blue-green flies are easily recognizable by their distinct color and short antennae. Adult female green bottle flies reproduce by laying eggs, which develop into larvae, also known as maggots. The larvae are conical-shaped and have smooth bodies.

Green bottle flies are not just important to the ecosystem; they have applications in forensics and medical science as well. Their presence can help determine the time of death in forensic investigations, and their larvae are used for wound debridement in medical procedures.

Identification of Green Bottle Fly

Color

The Green Bottle Fly (Lucilia sericata) is an insect that stands out due to its distinctive metallic color. This fly typically has a:

  • Bright metallic green body
  • Black or dark underside

These colors help distinguish it from other similar flies.

Size

The size of the Green Bottle Fly is another aspect to consider for identification. This fly is generally:

  • Approximately 8-10 mm in length
  • 3-4 mm wide

Wings

Examining the wings of the Green Bottle Fly can also help in its identification. These flies have:

  • One pair of wings
  • Transparent wings with noticeable veins

Eyes

Taking a closer look at the Green Bottle Fly’s eyes, you’ll notice the following characteristics:

  • Large compound eyes
  • Hairy surfaces

Antennae

The antennae of this fly are relatively short and not easily visible from a distance. Key features include:

  • Three segments in each antenna
  • Arista (hairlike projection) on the third segment

Legs

When examining the legs of the Green Bottle Fly, you’ll notice:

  • Three pairs of legs
  • Covered in hairlike bristles
  • Ending in claws for gripping surfaces

Veins

Although not immediately noticeable, the veins in this fly’s wings can be used to confirm its identity. They have:

  • Radial veins running parallel to the leading edge
  • Crossveins connecting the radial veins

Overall, identifying a Green Bottle Fly relies on observing its color, size, wings, eyes, antennae, legs, and veins.

Life Cycle and Development

Eggs

Green bottle flies, specifically Lucilia sericata, begin their life cycle as eggs. Female adults lay eggs in clusters, typically on decomposing organic matter. Examples of favored egg-laying sites include:

  • Dead animals
  • Manure
  • Garbage

Eggs hatch within 24 hours, giving rise to the larval stage.

Larvae

Upon hatching, the larvae, commonly known as maggots, feed on the decomposing material. They go through three instar stages, molting after each stage to accommodate growth. Key features of the larvae include:

  • Creamy-white color
  • Segmented body
  • Tapered head

Larvae take about 4 to 10 days to reach full growth, depending on the environmental conditions. Once matured, they seek a suitable location to pupate.

Pupation

After finding an appropriate environment, maggots stop feeding and pupate. This stage involves the larvae transforming into a brown, capsule-shaped puparium. Pupation lasts approximately 6 to 14 days, based on temperature and humidity levels. Once this period is over, adult green bottle flies emerge.

Adults

Green bottle flies are easily identifiable by their metallic-green color and hair-like bristles. They also possess one pair of wings, short antennae, and large compound eyes. Adults live for 2 to 3 weeks, with their primary goal being to mate and lay eggs to continue the life cycle.

Some unique features of adult green bottle flies include:

  • Attraction to bright lights
  • Preferring cooler indoor environments
  • Feeding on nectar, sap, and other liquids

Green bottle flies are integral to forensic science, as their presence on a deceased organism can help determine time of death.

Habitat and Behavior

Diet and Feeding Habits

The Green Bottle Fly, belonging to the family Calliphoridae, has a diet consisting primarily of carrion and nectar. These flies play a significant role in the decomposition process by consuming dead animal matter. Meanwhile, they also feed on flowers for their nectar and help in pollen transportation, subsequently aiding in pollination.

Examples of their food sources:

  • Rotting meat
  • Dead animals
  • Nectar from flowers

Mating and Reproduction

Green Bottle Flies exhibit mating behavior within proximity to carrion, which serves as a suitable site for laying their eggs. Mating usually occurs during daylight hours. Post-mating, females lay their eggs on decomposing organic matter, initiating the life cycle of their larvae, commonly known as maggots.

Distribution

These flies are typically found in the Northern Hemisphere, with a wide distribution across the United States and Canada. Their habitat usually includes areas of urban, suburban, and rural settings. They are particularly attracted to locations with a presence of decaying organic matter.

Comparison of Green Bottle Fly habitats:

Northern Hemisphere United States Canada
Urban areas Urban areas Urban areas
Suburban areas Suburban areas Suburban areas
Rural areas Rural areas Rural areas

Key characteristics of Green Bottle Flies:

  • Shiny, metallic green appearance
  • One pair of wings
  • Large compound eyes

Pros and cons of Green Bottle Flies:
Pros:

  • Assist in decomposition process
  • Aid in pollination of flowers

Cons:

  • Potential carriers of disease
  • May cause discomfort around humans with their buzzing and attraction to decomposing matter

As a vital subject in forensic entomology, the Green Bottle Fly’s habitat, behavior, and distribution provide valuable insights into crime scene investigation.

Infestation and Control

Signs of Infestation

Green Bottle Fly infestations can be identified by:

  • Frequent sightings of the flies near food sources or trash
  • Presence of small, legless, white-colored larvae (maggots) in decaying organic materials
  • Foul smells from decaying food or waste where the larvae feed and develop

Inspection and Monitoring

It is essential to regularly inspect and monitor potential breeding sites, such as:

  • Garbage cans and compost bins
  • Decaying fruits and vegetables
  • Animal carcasses or feces

By promptly identifying potential infestations, one can implement proper sanitation measures and prevent the growth of green bottle fly populations.

Sanitation Measures

Prevention is key in controlling infestations. Some recommended sanitation measures include:

  • Regular cleaning and sealing of trash containers
  • Proper disposal of food waste and pet feces
  • Maintaining a clean kitchen, free of rotting food

Biological and Chemical Control

Biological and chemical control methods can be employed to address existing infestations. Some notable examples are:

  • Predators like ants, spiders, and parasitic wasps, which can help control fly populations
  • Sticky traps and UV light traps that can capture adult flies
  • Insect growth regulators (IGRs) that inhibit the development of fly larvae

Comparison table of control methods:

Control Method Pros Cons
Biological control Environmentally friendly, sustainable Takes time, natural predators may be limited
Chemical control Fast-acting, wider range of effectiveness Potential harm to non-target species, resistance development

Remember to always consider the situation and infestation level before choosing a control method and consult a professional for severe cases.

Special Interactions and Applications

Maggot Therapy

Green Bottle Fly larvae, also known as maggots, have a unique application in medical treatments. They can be used for debridement of necrotic wounds, a process in which dead tissue is removed from the wound to promote healing1. Maggot therapy can be beneficial in treating:

  • Myiasis: The infestation of live tissue by fly larvae2.
  • Bacterial infections: Maggots secrete an antimicrobial enzyme that kills bacteria3.

Here’s a quick comparison between Maggot therapy and traditional wound treatment:

Method Advantages Disadvantages
Maggot Therapy No need for surgical intervention4 Not aesthetically pleasing5
Traditional Treatment More accepted by patients6 May require surgery7

Forensic Entomology

Green Bottle Flies can also be crucial in forensic investigations. Blowflies like Lucilia sericata are often the first insects to colonize a corpse8. Some significant characteristics of these flies are:

  • Pale yellow maggots.
  • Shiny, metallic body with bristles on the thorax.

Forensic entomologists can study these blowflies and their developmental stages to estimate the time of death9. This information can be valuable for crime scene investigations10.

In summary,

  • Green Bottle Fly larvae can help in wound treatment and fight bacterial infections.
  • They play a crucial role in forensic entomology by estimating time since death.

Comparison with Other Flies

Blue Bottle Fly

  • Blue Bottle Flies, also known as Calliphora vomitoria, are a species of blow flies
  • Both Green and Blue Bottle Flies are attracted to decaying matter

The Green Bottle Fly (Lucilia sericata) and the Blue Bottle Fly, also known as Calliphora vomitoria, are both members of the blow fly family. They share some similar traits but also have their differences. A few key characteristics to note:

  • Blue Bottle Flies have a metallic blue color, while Green Bottle Flies are metallic green
  • Both species are commonly found around carrion, garbage, and feces

Pros of Blue Bottle Flies:

  • Pollination: Blue Bottle Flies assist in pollination of certain plants
  • Forensic use: Helps in determining time of death in forensics

Cons of Blue Bottle Flies:

  • Disease transmission: Blue Bottle Flies can transmit diseases to humans

House Fly

  • House Flies are smaller and less metallic in appearance compared to Green Bottle Flies
  • They have a dull, checkered abdomen and four dark stripes on the thorax

The House Fly (Musca domestica) is significantly different from the Green Bottle Fly. A comparison between the two is as follows:

Feature House Fly Green Bottle Fly
Color Dull gray Metallic green
Body Size ¼-inch long ¼ to ½-inch long
Key Attraction Points Food, waste areas Decaying matter

Pros of House Flies:

  • Pollination: House Flies can help pollinate some plants

Cons of House Flies:

  • Disease transmission: House Flies are known to transmit various diseases
  • Reproduction: House Flies lay up to 180 eggs at a time, making their populations harder to control

To sum it up, while Green Bottle Flies and Blue Bottle Flies belong to the same family and share similarities like metallic colors and attraction to decaying matter, House Flies differ in appearance and may be more commonly found indoors around food and waste areas.

Conclusion

In summary, the Green Bottle Fly is an intriguing insect with some notable characteristics. For example, adult flies display a distinct metallic, blue-green color. They also play essential roles in decomposition, forensic investigations, and wound treatment.

Some key features of the Green Bottle Fly include:

  • Metallic blue-green appearance
  • Attracted to dead or rotting organic matter
  • Presence in forensic entomology
  • Use in maggot therapy for wound healing

Moreover, understanding their life cycle and behavior can prove beneficial for pest control and waste management.

A comparison between Green Bottle Flies and House Flies:

Feature Green Bottle Fly House Fly
Color Metallic blue-green Black and gray
Larval Diet Rotting flesh Human food, waste
Medical Relevance Maggot therapy Disease vector

Remember, appropriate measures should be taken to handle these flies, whether for medical use or when encountering them in your surroundings.

Footnotes

  1. https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/livestock/flies/lucilia_sericata.htm

  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-29977-0

  3. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0231295

  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19416437

  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/26/science/26obse.html

  6. https://www.emjreviews.com/features/maggot-debridement-therapy-reappraisal-modern-times/

  7. https://www.who.int/medical_devices/publications/wound_debridement/en/

  8. https://www.forensicentomologist.org/about/faq.shtml

  9. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/1556-4029.12539

  10. https://www.fhi.no/publ/2017/2017-07-03-appearing-in-court-as-an-expert-witness—entomo/

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Common Green Bottle Fly we believe

 

Fed Up With Flies
August 16, 2009
Hi,
About a week ago, we found maggots inside one of our outside trash cans. We disposed of the trash can and thoroughly cleaned the area around it as well. We are extremely clean people, so we never have food trash laying around the house, or feces, or any type of decaying matter. This is the first time we have had a problem with flies. A few days after this happened, we starting noticing swarms of flies in our basement. We have a finished basement and it is kept as clean as the rest of the house, so this was strange. Anyway, we killed all of the ones we could find with a handy dandy vacuum and newspaper. It seemed to have been over, but a few hours ago we had another bout of them, upwards of 30 or so. I did a bit of my own research online and identified them as blow flies. They are a green, blue metallic color. I also found that these flies have to lay eggs in rotting animals or organic decaying matter. We have looked EVERYWHERE in the house and around the house for possible ‘n esting sites’ yet to no avail. I am wondering where they could have come from the second time? Seeing as though there are no decaying animals or trash cans to lay eggs in, why are we getting a second round of these little guys? What can we do to make sure there’s not a round three?
Rebecca Schulte
St. Louis, Missouri

Common Green Bottle Fly
Common Green Bottle Fly

Hi Rebecca,
We believe your Blow Fly is a Common Green Bottle Fly, Lucilia sericata.  We have gotten similar accounts in the past and the seemingly magical appearance of flies in ancient times fostered the belief in Spontaneous Generation.  It is possible that there is a dead animal somewhere within your walls that is causing the flies to appear.  It should also be noted that the maggots crawl away from the food source to pupate.  The maggots might have migrated before you located the problem,  and even if the source of the infestation has been located, the pupae are most likely in a different location.  Once metamorphosis occurs, the flies seem to magically appear.  We expect that you are probably at the end of this annoying household intrusion.

Common Green Bottle Fly
Common Green Bottle Fly

Letter 2 – Green Bottle Fly

 

Subject:  Fly
Geographic location of the bug:  San Diego, CA
Date: 08/31/2019
Time: 02:27 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Is this a Tachnid Fly?
How you want your letter signed:  Marlene

Green Bottle Fly

Dear Marlene,
This looks to us like a Green Bottle Fly,
Lucilia sericata, which is pictured on the Natural History of Orange County and on BugGuide.   According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on carrion. Adults take nectar and have been used as pollinators of onions, cabbages and also other Brassicaceae” and “Larvae are used in forensics to determine the age of a corpse, and in medicine to clean up wounds (they feed on partially decomposed tissue, leaving the healthy one alone).”

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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