Where Do Rat-Tailed Maggots Come From? A Friendly Exploration into Their Origins

Rat-tailed maggots may not be something you’d like to encounter, but it’s interesting to learn about their origin. These creatures are the larval stage of the drone fly, Eristalis tenax, which is a European honey bee mimic. Their unique appearance can spark curiosity, as they have long, thin “tails” that serve as breathing tubes in wet environments.

You might be surprised to learn that these maggots come from stagnant water or decaying organic material. They can be found in places with poor drainage, such as clogged gutters or sewage treatment plants. Rat-tailed maggots are well-adapted to their surroundings and can even be considered beneficial, as they help break down waste.

Knowing where rat-tailed maggots come from can help you understand their role in nature and perhaps better manage areas where they may be present. However, it’s crucial to maintain proper sanitation to keep their populations under control and protect your living spaces from potential infestations.

Origins and Distribution

The rat-tailed maggots you might come across are the larvae of the Eristalis tenax species, also known as the drone fly. These unique creatures belong to the family Syrphidae in the Diptera order of insects, which includes hover flies. They are part of the Eristalini tribe and are known for their elongated tail-like breathing tube, which inspired their name.

These interesting creatures have a cosmopolitan distribution, meaning they can be found across different latitudes worldwide. They are known to inhabit areas of North America, such as Alaska, California, and Florida.

Physical Characteristics

Rat-tailed maggots are the larval stage of the drone fly, which closely resembles the European honey bee. Their unique physical characteristics enable them to thrive in their natural habitats.

The larva’s body is whitish, about 3/4 inch long, and consists of thorax and abdomen segments. One distinctive feature is the 1/2 inch long “tail”, which is actually a breathing tube called a siphon. This siphon functions like a snorkel, allowing the maggot to breathe while submerged in water.

Another striking aspect of the rat-tailed maggot is its set of legs. Although short and stubby, they enable the larva to move around within the stagnant water and organic matter where it feeds.

Upon maturing into a hover fly, the physical characteristics change dramatically. The wings develop, along with a constricted waist separating the thorax from the abdomen. Additionally, their eyes become more prominent, and a unique spurious vein appears on the wings.

Here’s a brief comparison of the larva and adult hover fly:

Feature Larva Adult Hover Fly
Body Length 3/4 inch Varies
Siphon (Tail) 1/2 inch N/A
Legs Short and stubby More developed
Wings Absent Present
Waist Absent Constricted
Eyes Less prominent Prominent
Spurious Vein Absent Present on wings

Remember these key characteristics when observing rat-tailed maggots and hover flies in their natural environment.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

The life cycle of rat-tailed maggots begins with the female drone fly depositing her eggs in stagnant water, decaying vegetation, or manure. These environments provide the necessary nutrients for the developing larvae.

  • First stage: The eggs hatch into larvae, also known as rat-tailed maggots.
  • Second stage: Larvae go through several instars, or growth stages, where they increase in size.
  • Third stage: Eventually, the larvae transform into pupae, ending their larval stage.

Rat-tailed maggots can overwinter as larvae in colder environments, allowing them to survive until temperatures become favorable for pupation and adult emergence. Here’s more information about their habitat and behavior.

During their larval stage, the maggots breathe through a long, extendable “tail” called a siphon. This siphon acts like a snorkel, allowing the larvae to access oxygen when submerged in water. In their aquatic habitat, rat-tailed maggots feed on decaying organic matter, aiding in decomposition.

Following pupation, adult drone flies emerge and resemble honey bees, which helps protect them from predators. Once they’ve reached adulthood, the drone flies are ready to mate and continue the reproduction process, completing the life cycle.

To sum up:

  • Female drone flies lay eggs in stagnant water or decaying matter.
  • Eggs hatch into rat-tailed maggots that go through several instars.
  • Maggots pupate and emerge as adult drone flies that resemble honey bees.
  • Adults mate, and the cycle repeats.

It’s important to remember that although rat-tailed maggots may appear unpleasant, they play a crucial role in breaking down organic matter in their environment!

Habitat and Behavior

Rat-tailed maggots thrive in aquatic environments, particularly in stagnant water. These creatures are usually found in places like lagoons, ditches, and ponds with enriched organic material.

Air and water are vital for their survival. They breathe through a long respiratory organ, resembling a tail, extending from their body to the water’s surface. This adaptation helps them survive in submerged environments that may have low oxygen levels.

Being in contact with soil isn’t crucial for rat-tailed maggots, but they do depend on decomposing organic material for nourishment. Their primary food sources are decaying plant matter and decomposing animals found in the water.

To sum it up, here are some key features of rat-tailed maggots’ habitat and behavior:

  • They prefer stagnant water environments.
  • Air and water are essential for them.
  • They have a unique respiratory organ enabling submerged living.
  • Soil contact is not vital, but organic material is a significant food source.

So, in your quest to understand rat-tailed maggots, remember that they favor stagnant water rich in organic material and have adapted splendidly to their aquatic surroundings with their specialized respiratory system.

Relation with Other Species

Rat-tailed maggots are the immature stage of the drone fly, which is a mimic of the European honey bee, Apis mellifera. They are known for their unique appearance and interactions with various other species.

When you consider their relation with honey bees, drone flies practice Batesian mimicry. They resemble the appearance of honey bees to deter predators but do not possess the stinging capabilities. It’s an effective strategy for evading threats.

A few predators of rat-tailed maggots include vertebrate animals and parasitic nematodes. Natural predators, such as wasps and yellowjackets, also consume the maggots.Humans have been known to be hosts for maggots in cases of myiasis, where maggots feed on living tissues. However, rat-tailed maggots generally prefer decaying organic matter and stagnant water, avoiding direct contact with humans.

Drone flies are important pollinators, just like honey bees. When they visit flowers to feed on nectar, they inadvertently collect and transfer pollen from one flower to another. In fact, some other flower fly species prey on agricultural pests like aphids, making them beneficial insects to humans.

Here’s a comparison table between drone flies and honey bees:

Feature Drone fly (Rat-tailed Maggot) Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)
Pollination
Mimicry Batesian Mimicry None
Stinging ability No Yes
Predators Vertebrates, Wasps, Nematodes Birds, Wasps, Yellowjackets
Dependency on Humans No Yes; Beekeeping

In conclusion, rat-tailed maggots and drone flies have intriguing relationships with other species through mimicry, predation, and mutual benefits to the ecosystem. Their interactions with honey bees, predators, and pollinators emphasize the importance of understanding these connections to maintain a balanced environment.

Economic and Health Implications

Rat-tailed maggots can be found in various environments, primarily in manure pits and contaminated water sources. Their presence may lead to a few problems.

Economically, these insects can be a nuisance to livestock operations. They may infest the living environments of the animals, causing discomfort and possibly leading to a decline in productivity.

  • For example, when rat-tailed maggots inhabit manure pits in livestock operations, they can interfere with the delicate balance of managing waste, attracting even more harmful pests.

As for health implications, rat-tailed maggots are known to cause accidental myiasis – a condition in which the maggots bore into living tissue. Although rare, this can lead to painful infections and discomfort if left untreated.

  • In some cases, they may also be confused with screwworms, which are dangerous parasites that feed on living tissue in animals.

Unfortunately, diseases can be transmitted to livestock from rat-tailed maggots. This can occur through contaminated water sources that the maggots inhabit, creating further risks to the animals’ health.

Control methods for these pests often include the use of insecticides to reduce their numbers. However, improper use of insecticides can lead to negative environmental impacts and damage to the animals themselves.

In summary:

Pros of controlling rat-tailed maggots:

  • Reduction of nuisance in livestock environments
  • Prevention of accidental myiasis and disease transmission

Cons of controlling rat-tailed maggots:

  • Potential harm to the environment from insecticide usage
  • Possible damage to livestock health if not managed carefully

Other Interesting Facts

Rat-tailed maggots belong to the family Syrphidae, which consists of hoverflies. These insects are part of the order Diptera, just like other flies. Interestingly, rat-tailed maggots are the immature stage of drone flies, which are known for their mimicry of honey bees.

These fascinating insects have some unique characteristics:

  • Adults feed on nectar from flowers
  • Larvae are found in stagnant water, feeding on decomposing organic matter
  • The “tail” is actually a breathing tube used by the larvae

Drone flies play an important role as pollinators since they visit flowers to consume nectar. This helps in the pollination process, benefiting various plant species.

Rat-tailed maggots have intriguing connections to history. They are believed to be the source of some biblical writings that depict honey bees developing from dead animals. This may be due to their presence on carcasses and their resemblance to honey bees when they metamorphose into adult drone flies.

Their ability to break down decaying organic material also makes them useful in the ecosystem, contributing to the natural recycling process. So, while they might seem a bit unsettling, rat-tailed maggots and their adult forms play important roles in the environment!

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 – Rattailed Maggot from New Zealand

 

Bug identification
Location: Raumati Beach, North Island, New Zealand
January 24, 2011 8:06 pm
Found this floating/swimming in a rainwater filled pot plant saucer in the back garden. It’s about 5 cm long from tip to tail. Wondering what it is.
Signature: Regards, Karen

Rattailed Maggot

Hi Karen,
This is the larva of the Drone Fly and it is commonly called a Rattailed Maggot.

Letter 2 – Native Drone Fly from Australia

 

Sydney bee or fly
Location: Warrawee, Sydney, Australia
February 4, 2011 11:15 pm
Can you identify this bee or fly. A number of them appeared in my garden in Warrawee (Sydney, Australia)a few days ago. They congregate on or under bush leaves with some shade from the summer sun.
I’ve checked the native bee site and it doesn’t appear there.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Signature: Mike Warren

Native Drone Fly

Hi Mike,
Probably so it will not be confused with the introduced European Drone Fly,
Eristalis tenax, your species which we identified on the Brisbane Insect Website, Eristalinus punctulatus, is referred to as the Native Drone Fly.  According to Oz Animals:  “The Native Drone Fly is a brightly coloured hover fly with large strange spotted eyes. The body is black and orange striped. They have a hovering flight and make a droning noise like a bee, hence the common name.”  The common name Native Drone Fly might create confusion in places other than Australia.

Native Drone Fly

Daniel,
Many thanks, I saw the Brisbane Insect Website but couldn’t find a matching photo.  It is definitely the one, with very distinctive markings.  So I guess I don’t need to worry about a swarm or think about honey!!  Given the very warm weather, they may have been seeking moisture and shade from the heat wave conditions we had last week.  It’s cooled down now, so will be interesting to see if they stay around.
Many thanks for your help with identification.
Regards,
Mike Warren

Letter 3 – Rattailed Maggot from South Africa

 

Subject: Weird toilet worm
Location: SOUTH AFRICA
April 6, 2014 6:37 am
Hi, i found this worm in the toilet this morning. it has a long black tail or flagellum or something. 2 eyes, its covering is transparent and you can see all its insides move around when it moves. It reminds me of the micro-organism paramecium.
its still alive, want to keep it that way until i find out what it is..AZ
Signature: LETITIA

Rat-Tailed Maggot
Rattailed Maggot

Dear Letitia,
This is a Rattailed Maggot, the larva of a Drone Fly.  It is harmless, and we suspect it traveled through the sewage pipes to get into your toilet, but we would not rule out it entering through the fresh water taps.  Back in 2006, we reported on Rattailed Maggots entering homes in Capetown through the potable water pipes.

Letter 4 – Drone Fly from Germany

 

Subject: Give me an ”H”! Bee Fly fun
Location: Stuttgart, Germany
July 19, 2013 2:07 pm
I checked and there is no Bee Fly like this one on your site yet. 🙂
I had a completely unexpected day in Stuttgart recently and rather than go to the Porsche or Mercedes Museums I walked around and found cool bugs. Really. 🙂
This one I just knew had to be a Bee Fly even though I didn’t know that existed as a general name (it seemed too simple). She had me fooled at first glance but then I was suspicious because despite the coloring and size, she didn’t act like a bee (or bumble bee which is a flurry of activity). In fact, she seemed quite annoyed that I even noticed her. 😀
In looking her up I stumbled upon a story of people playing with ”H” Bees as kids who were annoyed, even in denial they might have been playing with icky flies. Ha ha! We are so bug conditioned. I actually have found all new respect for flies since I discovered this great site.

They’re Not All Bees


Would be great to know more if you are able.
Thanks!
Signature: Curious Girl

Drone Fly
Drone Fly

Dear Curious Girl,
Alas, you are mistaken.  This is not a Bee Fly, but rather it is a Flower Fly in the family Syrphidae, more specifically a Drone Fly,
Eristalis tenax.  Many members of the family mimic bees and wasps.  We do have several images of adult Drone Flies on our site, and curiously, though they are a native European species, they have been introduced to North America.  Drone Fly larvae are found in stagnant water and they are known as Rat Tailed Maggots.

Well, that’s why I send the pics in to you. I am really amateur but I love finding out what something really is. Now though I am wondering why they get called “Drone” and “Flower” fly (especially rather than Bee). Funnily enough I had heard of rat-tailed maggots before but never would have put the two together. Thanks for the quick and proper ID.
My apologies for sending in a commonly submitted bug. 🙂

Dear Curious Girl,
Please do not apologize.  We do not have many Drone Fly images in our archives, and we are thrilled to have a recent image.  If you noticed, the link to the image we provided you is five years old.  We get considerably more images of Rat Tailed Maggots than we do of adult Drone Flies.

Letter 5 – Drone found in Torrance

 

Subject: Darlene in Torrance: Bee! No, Fly! No, Bee!
Location: Torrance, CA
June 29, 2013 11:21 am
I found a deceased bee today.
Conversation in my head: That’s an awfully big bee! No, it’s a fly – look at the eyes. Look how close together they are. That means it’s a male. Or does that mean it’s a female? I can never get that straight.
No, it’s a bee – remember the first thing in keying: it has four wings and flies only have two.
Of course it’s a bee!
Wait. It has a mustache between the eyes. Maybe it’s a robber fly. No, wait, the mustache is in the wrong place and the body shape and legs are all wrong.
Of course it’s a bee! (But that’s an awfully big bee!)
Signature: Always Keying in my Head Darlene from Torrance

Honey Bee Drone
Honey Bee Drone

Hi Always Keying in my Head Darlene from Torrance,
Are you the very Darlene that attended National Moth Week last year in Elyria Canyon Park?  Can we expect you to attend our 2013 National Moth Week event this year?
We are very excited about this submission.  This is a Honey Bee Drone which we first found pictured on the California Backyard Orchard website.  Much like you, we pondered the size of the eyes that are fly-like on the body of an apparent bee.  We did a web search for “big eye bee California” and found the photos and this amusing text from the California Backyard Orchard website:  “Drones–remotely piloted aircraft used in reconnaissance and target attacks–are in the news, but so are the other drones–male bees.  This time of year drones are as scarce as the proverbial hen’s teeth. They’re not needed in the hive now–just extra mouths to feed–so their sisters are booting them up. They’re basically evicted, cold and shivering, from the hive.  Drones are easy to identify: big eyes, bulky body, and lumbering movements.   It’s best to be a drone in the spring. When a virgin queen goes for her maiden flight, a group of drones will mate with her in the drone congregation area. The drones die shortly after mating. If they don’t mate, then they’ll die before winter sets in.”  We then verified the identity on BugGuide.  This is the first Drone Honey Bee photo we have ever received.  Thanks for the submission.

Honey Bee Drone
Honey Bee Drone

Daniel,
Yes, it’s me, the bug wrangler from last year’s moth week event. I’m planning on attending again this year.
I find it amazing that a dead bee I picked up is one you never received a photo of before.
Once, at Bio-Quip’s open house, there was an insect collection contest. I submitted mine from entomology class. I didn’t win, but Dr. James Hogue noticed my female Tipula oleracea crane fly and put it in the L.A. Natural History Museum collection because it was only the third of its kind he had ever seen in southern California.
Darlene

You are awesome Darlene.  I’m so excited you are coming back.  We might have to give you an award for traveling the farthest to Mount Washington.

 

Letter 6 – Rattailed Maggots in Canada

 

Subject: uhhhhhh?
Location: Errington, British Columbia, Canada
September 14, 2012 6:59 pm
So this spring I went and heaved a garbage can full of seaweed up to my house to make for a happy gardener. I decided to let the seaweed rot in the container over the summer, adding water as it evaporated.
The other day my partner asked for his can back so off I went to deal with the muck. I lifted the lid and this is what I found. I love knowing what all the ”bugs” are around my yard,and really do with I just had an entomologist friend at hand to ask all questions to. Alas, I do not 🙁 Hopefully you can help.
Picture was taken today, September 14th 2012, in Errington, BC, Canada.
Thanks!
Signature: Curiously watching the sludge seethe!

Rattailed Maggots

Dear Curiously watching the sludge seethe,
You have Rattailed Maggots, the larval form of a large introduced Syrphid Fly known as the Drone Fly,
Eristalis tenax.  These Rattailed Maggots will help the seaweed break down as they feed on decaying organic matter and they are frequently found around barnyards and in areas with rotting manure.  You can also find helpful information on this NCSU online document.

Rattailed Maggots

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 – Rattailed Maggot from New Zealand

 

Bug identification
Location: Raumati Beach, North Island, New Zealand
January 24, 2011 8:06 pm
Found this floating/swimming in a rainwater filled pot plant saucer in the back garden. It’s about 5 cm long from tip to tail. Wondering what it is.
Signature: Regards, Karen

Rattailed Maggot

Hi Karen,
This is the larva of the Drone Fly and it is commonly called a Rattailed Maggot.

Letter 2 – Native Drone Fly from Australia

 

Sydney bee or fly
Location: Warrawee, Sydney, Australia
February 4, 2011 11:15 pm
Can you identify this bee or fly. A number of them appeared in my garden in Warrawee (Sydney, Australia)a few days ago. They congregate on or under bush leaves with some shade from the summer sun.
I’ve checked the native bee site and it doesn’t appear there.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Signature: Mike Warren

Native Drone Fly

Hi Mike,
Probably so it will not be confused with the introduced European Drone Fly,
Eristalis tenax, your species which we identified on the Brisbane Insect Website, Eristalinus punctulatus, is referred to as the Native Drone Fly.  According to Oz Animals:  “The Native Drone Fly is a brightly coloured hover fly with large strange spotted eyes. The body is black and orange striped. They have a hovering flight and make a droning noise like a bee, hence the common name.”  The common name Native Drone Fly might create confusion in places other than Australia.

Native Drone Fly

Daniel,
Many thanks, I saw the Brisbane Insect Website but couldn’t find a matching photo.  It is definitely the one, with very distinctive markings.  So I guess I don’t need to worry about a swarm or think about honey!!  Given the very warm weather, they may have been seeking moisture and shade from the heat wave conditions we had last week.  It’s cooled down now, so will be interesting to see if they stay around.
Many thanks for your help with identification.
Regards,
Mike Warren

Letter 3 – Rattailed Maggot from South Africa

 

Subject: Weird toilet worm
Location: SOUTH AFRICA
April 6, 2014 6:37 am
Hi, i found this worm in the toilet this morning. it has a long black tail or flagellum or something. 2 eyes, its covering is transparent and you can see all its insides move around when it moves. It reminds me of the micro-organism paramecium.
its still alive, want to keep it that way until i find out what it is..AZ
Signature: LETITIA

Rat-Tailed Maggot
Rattailed Maggot

Dear Letitia,
This is a Rattailed Maggot, the larva of a Drone Fly.  It is harmless, and we suspect it traveled through the sewage pipes to get into your toilet, but we would not rule out it entering through the fresh water taps.  Back in 2006, we reported on Rattailed Maggots entering homes in Capetown through the potable water pipes.

Letter 4 – Drone Fly from Germany

 

Subject: Give me an ”H”! Bee Fly fun
Location: Stuttgart, Germany
July 19, 2013 2:07 pm
I checked and there is no Bee Fly like this one on your site yet. 🙂
I had a completely unexpected day in Stuttgart recently and rather than go to the Porsche or Mercedes Museums I walked around and found cool bugs. Really. 🙂
This one I just knew had to be a Bee Fly even though I didn’t know that existed as a general name (it seemed too simple). She had me fooled at first glance but then I was suspicious because despite the coloring and size, she didn’t act like a bee (or bumble bee which is a flurry of activity). In fact, she seemed quite annoyed that I even noticed her. 😀
In looking her up I stumbled upon a story of people playing with ”H” Bees as kids who were annoyed, even in denial they might have been playing with icky flies. Ha ha! We are so bug conditioned. I actually have found all new respect for flies since I discovered this great site.

They’re Not All Bees


Would be great to know more if you are able.
Thanks!
Signature: Curious Girl

Drone Fly
Drone Fly

Dear Curious Girl,
Alas, you are mistaken.  This is not a Bee Fly, but rather it is a Flower Fly in the family Syrphidae, more specifically a Drone Fly,
Eristalis tenax.  Many members of the family mimic bees and wasps.  We do have several images of adult Drone Flies on our site, and curiously, though they are a native European species, they have been introduced to North America.  Drone Fly larvae are found in stagnant water and they are known as Rat Tailed Maggots.

Well, that’s why I send the pics in to you. I am really amateur but I love finding out what something really is. Now though I am wondering why they get called “Drone” and “Flower” fly (especially rather than Bee). Funnily enough I had heard of rat-tailed maggots before but never would have put the two together. Thanks for the quick and proper ID.
My apologies for sending in a commonly submitted bug. 🙂

Dear Curious Girl,
Please do not apologize.  We do not have many Drone Fly images in our archives, and we are thrilled to have a recent image.  If you noticed, the link to the image we provided you is five years old.  We get considerably more images of Rat Tailed Maggots than we do of adult Drone Flies.

Letter 5 – Drone found in Torrance

 

Subject: Darlene in Torrance: Bee! No, Fly! No, Bee!
Location: Torrance, CA
June 29, 2013 11:21 am
I found a deceased bee today.
Conversation in my head: That’s an awfully big bee! No, it’s a fly – look at the eyes. Look how close together they are. That means it’s a male. Or does that mean it’s a female? I can never get that straight.
No, it’s a bee – remember the first thing in keying: it has four wings and flies only have two.
Of course it’s a bee!
Wait. It has a mustache between the eyes. Maybe it’s a robber fly. No, wait, the mustache is in the wrong place and the body shape and legs are all wrong.
Of course it’s a bee! (But that’s an awfully big bee!)
Signature: Always Keying in my Head Darlene from Torrance

Honey Bee Drone
Honey Bee Drone

Hi Always Keying in my Head Darlene from Torrance,
Are you the very Darlene that attended National Moth Week last year in Elyria Canyon Park?  Can we expect you to attend our 2013 National Moth Week event this year?
We are very excited about this submission.  This is a Honey Bee Drone which we first found pictured on the California Backyard Orchard website.  Much like you, we pondered the size of the eyes that are fly-like on the body of an apparent bee.  We did a web search for “big eye bee California” and found the photos and this amusing text from the California Backyard Orchard website:  “Drones–remotely piloted aircraft used in reconnaissance and target attacks–are in the news, but so are the other drones–male bees.  This time of year drones are as scarce as the proverbial hen’s teeth. They’re not needed in the hive now–just extra mouths to feed–so their sisters are booting them up. They’re basically evicted, cold and shivering, from the hive.  Drones are easy to identify: big eyes, bulky body, and lumbering movements.   It’s best to be a drone in the spring. When a virgin queen goes for her maiden flight, a group of drones will mate with her in the drone congregation area. The drones die shortly after mating. If they don’t mate, then they’ll die before winter sets in.”  We then verified the identity on BugGuide.  This is the first Drone Honey Bee photo we have ever received.  Thanks for the submission.

Honey Bee Drone
Honey Bee Drone

Daniel,
Yes, it’s me, the bug wrangler from last year’s moth week event. I’m planning on attending again this year.
I find it amazing that a dead bee I picked up is one you never received a photo of before.
Once, at Bio-Quip’s open house, there was an insect collection contest. I submitted mine from entomology class. I didn’t win, but Dr. James Hogue noticed my female Tipula oleracea crane fly and put it in the L.A. Natural History Museum collection because it was only the third of its kind he had ever seen in southern California.
Darlene

You are awesome Darlene.  I’m so excited you are coming back.  We might have to give you an award for traveling the farthest to Mount Washington.

 

Letter 6 – Rattailed Maggots in Canada

 

Subject: uhhhhhh?
Location: Errington, British Columbia, Canada
September 14, 2012 6:59 pm
So this spring I went and heaved a garbage can full of seaweed up to my house to make for a happy gardener. I decided to let the seaweed rot in the container over the summer, adding water as it evaporated.
The other day my partner asked for his can back so off I went to deal with the muck. I lifted the lid and this is what I found. I love knowing what all the ”bugs” are around my yard,and really do with I just had an entomologist friend at hand to ask all questions to. Alas, I do not 🙁 Hopefully you can help.
Picture was taken today, September 14th 2012, in Errington, BC, Canada.
Thanks!
Signature: Curiously watching the sludge seethe!

Rattailed Maggots

Dear Curiously watching the sludge seethe,
You have Rattailed Maggots, the larval form of a large introduced Syrphid Fly known as the Drone Fly,
Eristalis tenax.  These Rattailed Maggots will help the seaweed break down as they feed on decaying organic matter and they are frequently found around barnyards and in areas with rotting manure.  You can also find helpful information on this NCSU online document.

Rattailed Maggots

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.

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.

1 thought on “Where Do Rat-Tailed Maggots Come From? A Friendly Exploration into Their Origins”

  1. We see a lot of these Drone Flies in Cranbourne in Victoria (Australia). They are often seen zooming around our fruit tress. Their “rat-larvae” they leave in our pond are also an interesting sight. They provide a lot of protein for my fish.

    Reply

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