Green Bottle Flies

Facts, Identification & Control

Scientific Name

Lucilia sericata

Appearance

What Do They Look Like?

Green Bottle Fly

Green bottle flies are similar in size to house flies and appear metallic green with portions of copper-green.
They have clear wings with brownish-colored wing veins; large, reddish-colored compound eyes; and black legs and antennae.

Behavior, Diet & Habit

Green bottle flies are classified as filth feeders that develop in and feed on dead animals, feces, garbage and decomposing plant materials. Because of their unsanitary habitats, they may carry pathogenic bacteria that can be transmitted to people and animals via mechanical transmission. Outside, they are commonly seen on dog feces and are one of the many reasons why it is so important to pick up dog feces. Stronger fliers than house flies, green flies can travel as far as 10 miles, with wind assistance.

If a large number of green bottle flies are found inside a structure, they are usually breeding inside the home or in the immediate area of the home. Examples of such breeding sites may be a dead mouse or squirrel in the attic or wall void, or a dead bird or other animal in the chimney.

Green bottle flies complete their life cycle in a short time, but the period of time is affected by factors such as the quality of their food source, seasonality, temperature and humidity. The adult female fly deposits up to about 200 eggs that hatch and become larvae in 1-3 days. Within about 3-10 days, fully developed larvae leave their development site and burrow into the soil. Pupal development takes approximately 6-14 days after which time the adults will emerge and begin to feed on plant nectar, a carcass or garbage. The female fly lays eggs about 2 weeks after they leave the pupal stage. Green bottle flies usually complete 3 or 4 generations per year, more in the warmer regions of their distribution areas.

Reproduction

One female green bottle fly will lay about 2,000-3,000 eggs in her lifetime

Signs Of A Green Bottle Fly Infestation

The most common signs of bottle flies are either the adults themselves or their larvae. The adults may be seen resting on surfaces or buzzing around potential food sources in which to lay eggs. Larvae may be observed when they crawl out of the breeding material to pupate.

Distribution

The green bottle fly is found throughout the world, but is more likely to be found in the Northern Hemisphere. This species is widely distributed throughout the United States and southern Canada.

More Information

The green bottle fly plays an important role in forensic sciences since they are often the first insect to arrive on an animal or human carcass.

The green bottle fly can mechanically transmit disease organisms from their developmental sites. Ironically, they are the most commonly used fly species for human wound treatments of injuries that conventional treatments fail to heal. Under doctor’s supervision, sterile green bottle fly larvae are placed on a wound so that they feed on the dead tissue and bacteria that may otherwise cause the wound to become infected. Their activity increases the promotion of healthy tissue growth at the wound site which is achieved by not only eating the decomposing tissue but also secreting and producing antimicrobial enzymes while foraging in the wound.

In forensics, the presence of larvae (maggots) found in dead tissue helps investigators determine the time of death, which often assists in solving law enforcement cases.

Green bottle flies are very important contributors to the process of plant and animal decay.

Green bottle fly prevention and control may be comprised of both exterior and interior procedures. First, contact your pest management professional for assistance. Your pest management professional will positively identify the offending pest, conduct an inspection and then develop an integrated pest management plan (IPM) to resolve the problem. The key components of a green bottle fly IPM plan include:

  • Identification – since not all flies have the same behavior and habitat, it is important to correctly identify the offending insect so that an effective and efficient IPM program can be put into place.
  • Inspection – your pest management professional’s inspection will provide the information and observations needed to develop the proper IPM plan
  • Sanitation – keep the property clean and get rid of all sources that provide green bottle flies a suitable development habitat.
  • Exclusion – seal and repair screens, holes, gaps and any other entryway that green bottle flies may use to enter the home or may allow animals to enter the structure.
  • Light traps to attract and trap flies.
  • Chemical products to treat fly resting places and using chemical fly baits, residual insecticide and aerosol products in locations where flies are active.
  • Specific approaches to help control flies inside a home or business. This occurs when green bottle flies have developed in the carcass of a dead rodent, bat, bird or other animal that is located above the ceiling, in a wall void or some other hidden, out-of-the-way place. Your pest management professional will suspect that green bottle flies are developing in a carcass if he finds a large number of flies inside the home. The most likely scenario is that most of the larvae have developed into pupae, pupated and left the carcass as adult flies. If the source is found, your pest management professional may use chemical control products in the area or may need to use light traps to capture adult flies that have emerged.