Sunday, 8 August 2010


Say "yuk" if you like, but the topic for today is this 'charming' little creature, the Flesh Fly (Sarcophaga carnaria).  This one was scurrying around our garden this morning.
These are familiar members of the order Diptera (true flies) but are almost universally detested for their unpleasant habits. For a start, the name Sarcophaga means 'flesh-eating', a reference to the larval stage of the fly - the familiar maggot. Flies lay their eggs on a variety of things, particularly dead and decaying flesh, but also open wounds of living animals. The eggs hatch into maggots which feed on the host animal or carcass. They remain, growing, in that state for 5 - 10 days, before pupating underground. Emerging as the fully-formed adult fly, which lives a further 5 - 7 days.
Flesh Flies are also viviparous, meaning that they can give birth to fully formed, young flies too. This they do most often on a decaying corpse.
The Flesh Fly's association with disease is well documented and is a known carrier of Leprosy as well as intestinal 'worms' from the maggots. But they can also be very useful. The Forensic scientist will look at the development of Flesh Fly maggots on a corpse along with temperature and position, to establish the time of death. The maggots are also useful at controlling other insect larvae, beetles, caterpillars, snails, etc. So, you see, it's not all bad!
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