Image: Flesh fly - Adult

Flesh fly - Adult

Flesh fly - Family Sarcophagidae

Richard Major
© Australian Museum


Flesh flies - Family Sarcophagidae

Flesh flies are stripey-backed or chequered flies, often with bright red eyes. They arrive at corpses slightly later than the pioneer blowflies, but the eggs hatch in the uterus of the female, before she lays them, with the result that the larvae are deposited directly on the body. This allows them to catch up on the blowflies, whose eggs take around 24 hours to hatch.

Adult flesh flies still sometimes find themselves in competition with blowflies, as they fight for the best laying sites. When several flies attempt to lay in the same site, flesh flies can often be observed using their legs to kick other flies that stray too close.

Flesh fly pupae can remain dormant for long periods. Maggots of some Sarcophaga species hibernate as pupae in autumn and do not emerge as adult flies until late spring. Flesh flies often emerge in people's houses after feeding on dead possums in their ceiling.

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Tags death, decomposition, fly, insect, diptera, insects, flies,