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Flesh Fly

Flesh Fly
Sarcophaga spp.
(Order Diptera; Family Sarcophagidae)

Sarcophaga spp. (Photo Credit: David R. Linder)
(Kansas: Butler County. 1 mi. E of City of Andover, 37°40'59"N, 97°7'20"W. 11 October 2011.)

Adult Diagnosis:  Members of the genus Sarcophaga resemble a typical housefly (Genus: Musca), however there are slight differences in morphology. Sarcophaga will typically have 3 to 5 stripes located on the dorsal side of the thorax. Three stripes will be prominent, while there may be the presence of a 4th and 5th less noticeable stripe on either side. A checkerboard pattern located on the dorsal side of the abdomen may also be present. The arista of the antennae are plumose dorsally and ventrally, but only on the basal half. The size of the various species in Sarcophaga vary. However, they are considered "medium-sized flies", and sizes ranging from 9-15mm are typical. Identification of individual species is not possible without microscopic examination of the male genitalia.

Adult Natural History:  Species of Sarcophaga are ovoviviparous in that the female will actually give birth to live larvae, but lay eggs in rare circumstances. Thus, members of this species may be found in areas considered valuable for larval or egg deposition, such as near carrion, feces, or litter. Some species may even deposit larva on live grasshoppers in mid-flight or butterfly/moth larvae. Sarcophaga are medically important to humans, because they may cause a condition known as myaisis. If ingested, larvae may actually invade the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract.

Sarcophaga are holometabolus, also known as complete metamorphosis. In ideal temperatures, the larval stage may last only a few days, while the pupal stage may last a week. During winter, the larva may enter diapause and overwinter as a pupa.

Distribution: Members of the genus Sarcophaga are found worldwide, including the United States and Canada.

Distribution of Sarcophaga spp. in United States(Image from Edited by David R. Linder). Geographic Data from The Flies That Cause Myaisis in Man

Habitat:  These flies may be found around carrion, feces, trash (esp. landfills), and near grasshoppers.

Diet:  The common name of Flesh Fly comes not from the diet of the adult, but the diet of the larvae. Many larvae will eat the tissues of dead or live animals. Adults will seek out any form convenient form of carbohyrates, including flower nectar.

Conservation Status:  Stable.


Flesh Fly (Sarcophagidae: Sarcophaga) on Blossom

Flesh Fly (Sarcophagidae: Sarcophaga) Active


Wikipedia Article:

Flesh Fly Information:

Flesh Fly Pest Control:

Life Cycle of Flesh Flies:


Aldrich, J.M. Sarcophaga and Allies. La Fayette, Indiana. 1916.

James, Maurice T. The Flies That Cause Myiasis In Man. Washington D.C. 1947.

Salsbury, Glenn A. and White, Stephan C. Insects in Kansas. Kansas Department of Agriculture. 2008.

Service, M. W. Medical Entomology for Students. Cambridge, UK. 2008.

Submitted By:   David R. Linder, November 2011

Wichita State University
Generated on 2011. This website is continuously updated.
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