Flesh Flies

Facts, Identification, & Control

Scientific Name

Family Sarcophagidae

Appearance

What Do They Look Like?

  • Characteristics: Flesh flies look like house flies, but are generally larger.
  • Color: They are gray with a checkerboard pattern on the top of their abdomen. Three black stripes run along the top surface of their thorax, and sometimes a reddish-brown tip at the end of the abdomen.

How Did I Get Flesh Flies?

What Attracts The Pest?
Homes at risk for flesh flies often have:

  • Accumulations of pet feces outdoors.
  • Exposed trash and garbage.
  • Occurrences of dead animals.
  • Poorly maintained compost bins.

How Serious Are Flesh Flies?

Adults
Adult flesh flies are rarely problems as disease carriers, and pose little threat to human or livestock health. These pests eat nasty stuff, but they do not bite people.

Larvae and Disease
Flesh fly larvae have been known to burrow from wounds into the healthy flesh of livestock. Some species can cause intestinal infections in humans who consume food contaminated with flesh fly larvae. The pests can transmit organisms they pick up at their unsanitary feeding sites. Some examples of diseases transmitted by flesh flies include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dysentery
  • Myiasis

Clean-up
The presence of this pest and their preferred sources of food can add to the time and efforts that must be directed to removing decaying matter from the homeowner’s property.

Signs Of Infestation

If flies are developing inside, you may see a large number of them suddenly appear. When pests such as rodents, birds, or other wildlife infest homes and die in wall voids or attics, odors and the appearance of flesh flies are often the first signs of a problem.

How Do I Get Rid of Flesh Flies?

What Orkin Does
Flesh fly prevention and control comprises both exterior and, if necessary, interior procedures. The first step in a control program is to 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 flesh 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 flesh flies a suitable development habitat.
  • Exclusion: Seal and repair screens, holes, gaps, and any other entryway that flesh flies may use to enter the home.
  • Traps: Illuminate traps to attract and capture flies.
  • Baits: Using chemical products to treat fly resting places, using chemical fly baits and using aerosol products.


Behavior, Diet, & Habit

These pests are sometimes among the first insects to arrive at a dead animal carcass and are similar to blow flies in biology and habits. Also, forensic investigators may use the development of flesh fly larvae in a carcass or corpse to help determine time of death.

What Do They Eat?
These materials attract flesh flies and provide the ideal food source for the pests as well as a place to lay their eggs:

  • Carrion
  • Decaying feces
  • Organic waste
  • Blow fly larvae
  • Lesser house fly larvae
  • Grasshopper nymphs

Where Do They Live?
Not commonly found in the home, flesh flies frequently infest industrial buildings like meat processing and packing facilities. Adult flesh flies don’t bite humans, but they do feed on liquid substances, and may infest wounds, carrion, and excrement.

Geographic Range
Flesh flies are worldwide in distribution and are found in most regions of the United States.

Life Cycle

While the life cycle of flesh flies varies by species and location, generally the flies overwinter in their pupal stage within temperate climates and emerge as adults in the spring. Soon after becoming adults, they mate and the female flesh fly may lay eggs. More likely she will deposit 20-40 larvae that have hatched within her body which she directly lays on the carrion, feces, or rotting plant materials. A single female can produce hundreds of eggs during her lifetime.

Lifespan
Flesh fly larvae feed for 3 or 4 days and become pupae that burrow into nearby soil. After about 10 to 15 days, they will emerge as adults. Flesh flies go through several generations each year. Depending on the species, eggs may hatch within 24 hours and the entire life cycle of the fly may be completed within 1-2 weeks.