Where Do Flesh Flies Come From? Unraveling the Mystery

Flesh flies are fascinating insects known for their unique life cycle and feeding habits. They belong to the family Sarcophagidae and are often found around decaying organic matter or dead animals. Like most other flies, they go through a complete metamorphosis, starting from eggs, then to larvae (maggots), followed by the pupal stage, and finally, they emerge as adult flies.

You might be wondering, where do these flies actually come from? Well, flesh flies lay their eggs in recently deceased animals, garbage or any other suitable breeding site with decaying organic matter. As the larvae hatch, they begin feeding on the decaying matter, growing and developing until they’re ready to pupate.

In some instances, the presence of flesh flies indoors can be an indicator of a dead animal within the building, such as rodents trapped in wall voids. Thus, it’s essential to be mindful of these flies and take the necessary proactive measures to prevent their infestations. Keeping your surroundings clean and disposing of trash properly can go a long way in preventing these flies from becoming a nuisance.

Understanding Flesh Flies

Flesh flies are a type of fly that belongs to the family Sarcophagidae, within the order Diptera. They are commonly found in North America and other parts of the world. As their name suggests, these flies have a preference for feeding on decaying organic matter, such as dead animals and garbage, making them a nuisance for both homeowners and businesses.

The genus Sarcophaga makes up a significant portion of the flesh fly species. These insects differ from other types of flies in various ways. For example, their coloration is unique; they are generally gray with a checkerboard pattern on their abdomen and red-orange eyes.

Here are some key characteristics of flesh flies:

  • Gray color with checkerboard pattern
  • Red-orange eyes
  • Belong to the family Sarcophagidae
  • Feed on decaying organic matter

Flesh flies serve as a vector for various human pathogens due to their close association with decaying matter. Ensuring proper sanitation and exclusion methods, such as sealing off any potential entry points, can help minimize the presence of these insects in your surroundings.

In conclusion, understanding flesh flies is essential for their effective control. By learning about their key characteristics and habitats, you can take measures to prevent their establishment and the potential health risks they pose.

Physical Characteristics

Color and Pattern

Flesh flies display a distinctive appearance that sets them apart from other common fly species. Their body color is typically gray, with a checkerboard pattern on their abdomen. This pattern consists of alternating dark and light gray squares. In addition to the gray coloration, flesh flies also have red eyes that add a contrasting element to their appearance.

Size and Shape

The size of flesh flies varies depending on the species, but they are generally considered large flies. Their body can be divided into three main sections: the head, thorax, and abdomen. The thorax and abdomen are usually covered with gray and black stripes or patterns, while the head displays the distinctive red eyes. Here is a brief comparison of flesh flies with other common fly types:

Fly Type Size Color Pattern
Flesh Fly Large Gray Checkerboard
Blow Fly Medium Blue-Green Metallic
House Fly Small-Medium Black-Grey Stripes

Unique Behavior

Flesh flies exhibit unique behaviors compared to other types of flies. For example, they are known as scavengers, feeding on decaying organic matter and dead animals. Their feeding habits make them an important part of the natural decomposition process. One particularly unusual aspect of flesh fly reproduction is that female flies deposit live larvae instead of laying eggs, giving them a head start in their developmental process. This characteristic sets them apart from most other fly species, which typically lay eggs.

To sum it up, flesh flies are easily recognizable by their size, color, and unique behaviors. Paying attention to their appearance and habits can help you identify them in the environment around you. Remember, these flies play a crucial role in the decomposition process, but it’s important to keep them at bay to maintain a clean and healthy living space.

Flesh Fly Life Cycle

From Egg to Larva

Flesh flies, belonging to the family Sarcophagidae, have a unique life cycle. Instead of laying eggs like other flies, they give birth to live larvae. This process, called ovoviviparity, helps increase the survival rate of the offspring since they don’t have to spend time developing in vulnerable eggs.

The larvae, also known as maggots, immediately start to feed on the decaying organic matter around them, growing rapidly. During their larval stage, they go through three instars, each with a brief molting phase in between.

Pupa to Adult

As the larvae reach the end of their development, they enter the pupal stage. They move away from the food source and often bury themselves in soil or leaf litter, forming a protective casing called a puparium. Inside this casing, they undergo metamorphosis, transforming into adult flesh flies.

The pupal stage can last from a week to several weeks, depending on the temperature and environmental conditions. Once the adult flesh fly emerges, they are fully formed and ready to mate, starting the life cycle all over again.

Notable characteristics of flesh flies:

  • Ovoviviparity: giving birth to live larvae
  • Rapid larval growth
  • Pupation in soil or leaf litter

Age and lifespan of a flesh fly can vary depending on factors such as temperature and environmental conditions. It’s essential to understand their life cycle to effectively control their population in case of infestations. So, keep an eye out for these interesting creatures and learn more about their unique development process.

Flesh Fly Habitat and Diet

Dietary Habits

Flesh flies are known for their unique choice of food, which often includes feeding on carrion and animal carcasses. These flies might also consume excrement, helping with decomposition of organic matter. Some species even lay their eggs in open wounds or dead animals, making them beneficial for breaking down decaying material. Flesh flies are usually attracted to:

  • Carrion
  • Dead animals
  • Dung
  • Garbage

Typical Habitats

Flesh flies can be commonly found in several areas around your home or properties. They prefer locations where their preferred food sources, such as animal carcasses, excrement, and garbage, are abundant. These creatures often dwell in:

  • Soil near homes
  • Garbage cans
  • Compost piles
  • Dumpsters
  • Facilities with wall voids

Climatic Conditions and Regions

Flesh flies are most prevalent in tropical climates where conditions are warm and humid. They can also survive in temperate regions, but their prevalence might be lower. Their distribution varies depending on the available food sources, like carrion or garbage, which they need for sustenance and reproduction. In conclusion, flesh flies can be found in:

  • Warm, tropical regions
  • Temperate areas (less common)
  • Locations with abundant food sources (decomposition, manure, etc.)

By being aware of their habitat and diet preferences, you can take appropriate steps to prevent or manage flesh fly infestations in your home or property. Remember to keep your surroundings clean and remove potential breeding sites to minimize their presence.

Flesh Fly Identification

Flesh flies belong to the family Sarcophagidae, which comes from the Greek words σάρκο (flesh) and φάγε (eating) meaning flesh-eating. They are often confused with blow flies from the family Calliphoridae. Let’s take a closer look at how to identify flesh flies and what you should do in case of contact with them.

Identifying flesh flies can be relatively simple by examining their appearance. They generally have a gray or black coloration with a checkered pattern on the abdomen. Compared to blow flies that exhibit metallic coloration, flesh flies have a more dull appearance. Additionally, flesh flies have red eyes and a bristly body, while blow flies have larger, metallic-looking eyes.

In case you come across a flesh fly, it’s essential to know how to handle the situation. Adult flesh flies are generally not harmful to humans, but their larvae can cause myiasis, a parasitic infection. If you find flesh flies in your home or on your property, it is best to contact a pest control professional to address the issue.

Remember, maintaining proper hygiene and sanitation can help prevent infestations, as flesh flies are attracted to decaying organic matter. By disposing of waste properly and keeping your environment clean, you can keep flesh flies at bay.

Here are some key features to remember when identifying flesh flies:

  • Gray or black coloration
  • Checkered pattern on the abdomen
  • Red eyes
  • Bristly body

In conclusion, knowing how to identify and handle contact with flesh flies can help protect your home and health. Always be vigilant and maintain a clean environment to prevent any unwanted encounters.

Flesh Fly Prevention and Control

Prevention Measures

Regular inspection and sanitation are crucial in preventing a flesh fly infestation. These are some steps you can take:

  • Seal any openings on your property, including cracks and crevices, with caulking or weather stripping.
  • Install screens on doors and windows to prevent fly entry.
  • Make sure exterior doors and windows are properly sealed with weather stripping.
  • Regularly clean garbage and waste storage areas to remove any potential breeding grounds.

For example, you can use door sweeps and light traps as preventive measures.

Treatment Options

Once you have taken preventive measures, consider these treatment options for existing flesh fly issues:

  • Exclusion: Close off access to any indoor areas with dead animals or rotting material, which may attract flesh flies.
  • Traps: Use light traps and fly baits to catch and kill the adult flies.
  • Baits: Apply fly baits to areas where flies are commonly found to control their population.

Here are some pros and cons of using traps and baits:

Method Pros Cons
Traps Non-toxic and eco-friendly May not attract all flies
Baits Effective in reducing fly population May be toxic to pets and humans

In conclusion, proper inspection, sanitation, and other prevention measures, paired with suitable treatment options, can help you control and prevent flesh fly infestations in your home or property.

Flesh Flies and Disease

Flesh flies are a type of insect that often breed on decaying organic matter, such as dead animals or rotting food. Due to their breeding habits, they can potentially transmit diseases to humans.

One of the diseases flesh flies can spread is bacterial infections. When they come into contact with decaying matter, they can pick up harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella or E. coli. If they then land on your food or surfaces in your home, they can transfer these bacteria, leading to foodborne illnesses.

Fly prevention is crucial in protecting against these diseases. Let’s explore some effective methods to keep flesh flies at bay:

  • Keep your home clean and free of food waste
  • Dispose of garbage regularly and sanitize trash cans
  • Repair torn window screens and close doors to block fly entry
  • Use fly traps or insecticides when necessary

Here are some interesting facts about flesh flies:

  • Flesh flies belong to the family Sarcophagidae
  • There are over 2,000 species worldwide
  • Adult flies feed on nectar, but their larvae (maggots) feed on decaying organic matter
  • Flesh flies give birth to live larvae, unlike most other fly species that lay eggs

Please remember that while flesh flies can transmit diseases, maintaining a clean environment and practicing proper fly prevention will significantly reduce the risk to your health. So be vigilant with your hygiene practices to keep these unwelcome guests away from your home.

Interactions with Other Organisms

Flesh flies, as their name implies, are attracted to decaying flesh. These insects often lay their eggs in dead rodents and other carrion, making them an important component of the natural decomposition process. So, you might find them near breeding sites such as garbage cans and animal remains.

While flesh flies provide an essential ecological service, they can also be a nuisance, especially when they invade human environments. For instance, if you come across a dead rodent in your home or yard, there’s a good chance you will also encounter flesh flies. However, it’s essential to note that they are harmless and do not bite humans.

In the insect world, flesh flies can fall prey to predators such as wasps. These opportunistic hunters can use their stingers to paralyze the flies and then lay their eggs inside them. This parasitic relationship results in the wasp larvae feeding on the flesh flies as they develop.

Flesh flies also bear some resemblance to bottle flies, which are known for their metallic green or blue sheen. When comparing these two species, some key differences can help you distinguish between them:

Trait Flesh Flies Bottle Flies
Color Gray or black with stripes Metallic green or blue
Larval Habit Develop inside food source Develop on food source
Breeding Site Dead animals, carrion, feces Decaying organic matter

In summary:

  • Flesh flies lay their eggs in dead rodents and serve as decomposers in ecosystems.
  • They can become a nuisance when they enter human environments, but they are harmless.
  • Wasps prey on flesh flies and engage in a parasitic relationship with them.
  • Flesh flies can be distinguished from bottle flies based on appearance and breeding site preferences.

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 – Flesh Fly

 

Subject:  Fly
Geographic location of the bug:  Penn State University Park Campus
Date: 10/03/2017
Time: 05:48 PM EDT
Hi,
I have this fly that I need correctly identified. I have identified it as the Phaonia Palpata Fly; however, I believe that’s incorrect as that particular species of fly usually resides in England. I hope you can help me identify it.
How you want your letter signed:  N

Flesh Fly

Dear N,
This is a Flesh Fly in the family Sarcophagidae, but we are uncertain of the species.

Letter 2 – Flesh Fly

 

Subject:  Found giant fly at neighbors house
Geographic location of the bug:  Tennessee
Date: 08/29/2018
Time: 08:06 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this giant fly at my neighbors house. Well I found 3 of them so far and took a pic of one. He is an elderly man and I sometimes clean his house for him. He had to put his dog down because it got sick. Three holes were discovered on its back. Could this fly be the cause? What type is it and how can he get rid of them? Thanks for your help.
How you want your letter signed:  Nessa

Flesh Fly

Dear Nessa,
This is a Flesh Fly in the family Sarcophagidae, and according to BugGuide:  “Larvae: many species are necrophagous, but some feed in mammalian tissues or parasitize other arthropods (bees, cicadas, termites, grasshoppers/locusts, millipedes), earthworms, or snails. Adults feed on various sugar-containing materials such as nectar, sap, fruit juices and honeydew.”  If the dog’s flesh had necrotized, it is possible that the Flesh Flies laid eggs in the wounds.  We do not provide extermination advice.

Letter 3 – Flesh Fly from tunnel between Serbia and Slovenia

 

Subject: Passenger Flies (Serbia to Slovenia)
Location: Originally Serbia, now Slovenia
February 14, 2013 5:00 am
There was an accident in a tunnel just after we crossed from the Bulgarian border that created a huge backup on the road. While we were at a complete stop on a very warm day in late August we picked up some uninvited passengers we couldn’t seem to shake. 4 Humans and 3 Flies in a BMW wagon. So, to amuse myself I took pictures of them. One in particular was much more interesting than I was expecting.
If you are able to help with identification that would be lovely. 🙂
Next up, flies in Germany. 🙂
Signature: Curious Girl

Flesh Fly with hitchhiking Mites

Dear Curious Girl,
How sad that your human passengers were less interesting than this fly.  We believe this is a Flesh Fly in the family Sarcophagidae.  You can see additional images and read about North American species on BugGuide.  Interestingly, it appears that this Flesh Fly has picked up some hitchhikers of its own.  The red dots on the thorax and leg are most likely phoretic mites that are hoping to be transported to their next meal.

Oh, that makes sense except this fly was no bigger than the others and they were all what I would call, “standard” fly size not one of those big ones like the North American versions seem to be from descriptions but my understanding is these are worldwide and there are many different varieties and sizes?
However, up till now I had thought the red was just pretty decorations adding interest to the fly.
As for the Sarchophagidae it would seem the other two flies I sent with the Flesh Fly could then be Satellite (metopia) Flies which puts them in the same family (? is that correct? Family? I get so confused by classificiations).
http://bugguide.net/node/view/53650/bgpage
Pretty cool they have live births instead of laying eggs.
Anyway, the day I sent these last pics to you I went out here in Cyprus to an explosion of bug life so captured pictures of dozens of interesting flies and little (+ bigger) bees among other things. So, expect more from me soon. 🙂
And thanks so much for the assist. It’s soooo cool to know these have names and descriptions in the world. 🙂

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 – Flesh Fly

 

Subject:  Fly
Geographic location of the bug:  Penn State University Park Campus
Date: 10/03/2017
Time: 05:48 PM EDT
Hi,
I have this fly that I need correctly identified. I have identified it as the Phaonia Palpata Fly; however, I believe that’s incorrect as that particular species of fly usually resides in England. I hope you can help me identify it.
How you want your letter signed:  N

Flesh Fly

Dear N,
This is a Flesh Fly in the family Sarcophagidae, but we are uncertain of the species.

Letter 2 – Flesh Fly

 

Subject:  Found giant fly at neighbors house
Geographic location of the bug:  Tennessee
Date: 08/29/2018
Time: 08:06 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this giant fly at my neighbors house. Well I found 3 of them so far and took a pic of one. He is an elderly man and I sometimes clean his house for him. He had to put his dog down because it got sick. Three holes were discovered on its back. Could this fly be the cause? What type is it and how can he get rid of them? Thanks for your help.
How you want your letter signed:  Nessa

Flesh Fly

Dear Nessa,
This is a Flesh Fly in the family Sarcophagidae, and according to BugGuide:  “Larvae: many species are necrophagous, but some feed in mammalian tissues or parasitize other arthropods (bees, cicadas, termites, grasshoppers/locusts, millipedes), earthworms, or snails. Adults feed on various sugar-containing materials such as nectar, sap, fruit juices and honeydew.”  If the dog’s flesh had necrotized, it is possible that the Flesh Flies laid eggs in the wounds.  We do not provide extermination advice.

Letter 3 – Flesh Fly from tunnel between Serbia and Slovenia

 

Subject: Passenger Flies (Serbia to Slovenia)
Location: Originally Serbia, now Slovenia
February 14, 2013 5:00 am
There was an accident in a tunnel just after we crossed from the Bulgarian border that created a huge backup on the road. While we were at a complete stop on a very warm day in late August we picked up some uninvited passengers we couldn’t seem to shake. 4 Humans and 3 Flies in a BMW wagon. So, to amuse myself I took pictures of them. One in particular was much more interesting than I was expecting.
If you are able to help with identification that would be lovely. 🙂
Next up, flies in Germany. 🙂
Signature: Curious Girl

Flesh Fly with hitchhiking Mites

Dear Curious Girl,
How sad that your human passengers were less interesting than this fly.  We believe this is a Flesh Fly in the family Sarcophagidae.  You can see additional images and read about North American species on BugGuide.  Interestingly, it appears that this Flesh Fly has picked up some hitchhikers of its own.  The red dots on the thorax and leg are most likely phoretic mites that are hoping to be transported to their next meal.

Oh, that makes sense except this fly was no bigger than the others and they were all what I would call, “standard” fly size not one of those big ones like the North American versions seem to be from descriptions but my understanding is these are worldwide and there are many different varieties and sizes?
However, up till now I had thought the red was just pretty decorations adding interest to the fly.
As for the Sarchophagidae it would seem the other two flies I sent with the Flesh Fly could then be Satellite (metopia) Flies which puts them in the same family (? is that correct? Family? I get so confused by classificiations).
http://bugguide.net/node/view/53650/bgpage
Pretty cool they have live births instead of laying eggs.
Anyway, the day I sent these last pics to you I went out here in Cyprus to an explosion of bug life so captured pictures of dozens of interesting flies and little (+ bigger) bees among other things. So, expect more from me soon. 🙂
And thanks so much for the assist. It’s soooo cool to know these have names and descriptions in the world. 🙂

Authors

  • 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.

3 thoughts on “Where Do Flesh Flies Come From? Unraveling the Mystery”

  1. seen those in bulgaria, a lot bigger is quite common, maybe 10mm in length
    i think its those that bite humans now and then? a good bite, fetches blood straight away,

    Reply
    • To the best of our knowledge, adult Flesh Flies are not blood sucking, biting flies. According to BugGuide: “Larvae: many species are necrophagous, but some feed in mammalian tissues or parasitize other arthropods (bees, cicadas, termites, grasshoppers/locusts, millipedes), earthworms, or snails(3). Adults feed on various sugar-containing materials such as nectar, sap, fruit juices and honeydew.” We suspect you have most likely been bitten by a Horse Fly or Deer Fly in the family Tabanidae.

      Reply
  2. seen those in bulgaria, a lot bigger is quite common, maybe 10mm in length
    i think its those that bite humans now and then? a good bite, fetches blood straight away,

    Reply

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