Flesh Flies

Ah, the common flesh fly.

I’d never noticed one before this morning, so whaddya mean “common”?

Worldwide, there are 800 valid species (arranged for convenience into a mere 150 subgenera).

OK, common it is. I’m not sure I want the answer to this next one, but whaddya mean “flesh”?

The larvae feed on rotting carrion or decaying meat.

Kids these days. What are you gonna do?

This always happens. I am minding my own business, photographing yellow jackets in the sunshine as one random example, and something I’ve never seen/noticed before jumps into the frame.

This often leads to amazement: 800 species!

This sometimes leads to ickiness: eating rotting carrion! Mind you, I guess if we’re not to be knee-deep in rotting carrion, something has to eat it. Better a fly’s larvae than me.

And it occasionally leads to opportunities for immature humour: The species are hard to distinguish (one from the 799 others) and the process usually requires examination of the male’s genitalia. Under an, ahem, microscope.

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8 Responses to Flesh Flies

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Well, that certainly gives me a new appreciation for the flies that come to my condo balcony. If I get a picture can your identify it for me?

  2. I am so glad I have no microscope to offer you. If these critters can get to an inadequately deep animal burial, their larvae literally can make the ground heave. Living in the fertile countryside as I do, I make sure the garbage gets to the roadside on Monday mornings or I will be facing sheets of them trying to get through the plastic bags by the following pick-up day. Your research makes me feel I should be grateful for all they do. I’ll try to remember that tomorrow morning!

  3. Jim Taylor says:

    Maggots, aren’t they, those larvae Laura refers to? I vaguely recall from the Hornblower series that surgeons carried maggots with them, so that they could be applied to sailors’ wounds, to clean up the rotting flesh and help the victim recover. Again, I vaguely recall that those maggots would not eat healthy flesh.

    Ghastly stuff to think about, but it’s not all bad news.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – I think “maggots” is a general term for the larvae of many flies. And now that I think of it, didn’t people believe in spontaneous generation (maggots emerging, hey presto, out of rotting meat) until someone did the experiment where they covered the meat and flies couldn’t lay their eggs? Something like that.

  4. barbara carlson says:

    Left a message but it was eaten…

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