Flesh fly

Flesh flies
Sarcophaga bercaea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Section: Schizophora
Superfamily: Oestroidea
Family: Sarcophagidae
Macquart, 1834

Data related to Flesh fly at Wikispecies

Flies in the family Sarcophagidae (from the Greek σάρκο sarco- = flesh, φάγε phage = eating; the same roots as the word "sarcophagus") are commonly known as flesh flies. They differ from most flies in that they are ovoviviparous, opportunistically depositing hatched or hatching maggots instead of eggs on carrion, dung, decaying material, or open wounds of mammals, hence their common name. Some flesh fly larvae are internal parasites of other insects such as Orthoptera, and some, in particular the Miltogramminae, are kleptoparasites of solitary Hymenoptera.[1]

Diagnostic characteristics

Wing venation of Sarcophagidae
Sarcophaga nodosa feeding on decaying flesh
Sarcophagid showing basally plumose arista

Members of the subfamily Sarcophaginae are small to large flies 0.16-0.9 in (4-23 mm) with black and gray longitudinal stripes on the thorax and checkering on the abdomen. Other key features include red eyes and a bristled abdomen. Abdominal sternites II and III are free and cover the margins of tergites. The posthumeral bristles are one or two in number, with the outermost pair missing.

The presutural bristle is located lower than the notopleural bristle, and closer to the notopleural bristle than to the outermost posthumeral bristle. The presutural bristle is located higher than or level with the posthumeral bristle. The hindmost posthumeral bristle is located even with or toward the midline from the presutural bristle. Four notopleural bristles are present and arranged in the order - short, long, short, long - from front to rear.

Vein M1 +2 (anterior transverse vein, medial vein 1+2 ) is always present, and the cubitulus is strongly bent at right angles or acute; vein Rs is dibranched.

The eyes are smooth and very rarely hairy.

The arista is plumose in its basal half, or rarely pubescent or glabrous.


The family contains three subfamilies, the Miltogramminae, the Paramacronychiinae, and the Sarcophaginae, containing between them 108 genera. About 2500 species are in this family.


Craticulina is a genus of Miltogramminae. This species is a kleptoparasite of Philanthus. The arista is basally pubescent.

Sarcophaginae : The majority of species in the large genus Sarcophaga are scavengers of small carrion, such as dead insects and snails or smaller vertebrates. A few species feed on larger vertebrate carcasses. Flesh fly maggots occasionally eat other larvae, although this is usually because the other larvae are smaller and get in the way. Flesh flies and their larvae are also known to eat decaying vegetable matter and excrement, and they may be found around compost piles and pit latrines.[2]

Miltogramminae : Members of this subfamily are kleptoparasites of solitary bees and solitary wasps.[3]

Paramacronychiinae : This subfamily includes lepidopteran predators or parasitoids (Agria), predators on immatures (mainly prepupae) of bumblebees (Brachycoma) and generalist scavengers and insect predators (Sarcophila and Wohlfahrtia).[4]

Use in forensic entomology

Vairo, Mello-Patiu and Carvalho give a short overview of the role of Sarcophagidae in medicolegal entomology.

Sarcophaga ruficornis mating

Association with disease

Flesh flies can carry leprosy bacilli and can transmit intestinal pseudomyiasis to people who eat their larvae. Flesh flies, particularly Wohlfahrtia magnifica, can also cause myiasis in animals, mostly to sheep, and can give them blood poisoning, or asymptomatic leprosy infections.


Generally, only males of this family can reliably be identified to species, and then only by examination of dissected genitalia. The literature is incomplete or scattered for all regions. References include:


Principal bibliograpic sources


See also

Species lists


  1. Richards, O. W.; Davies, R.G. (1977). Imms' General Textbook of Entomology: Volume 1: Structure, Physiology and Development Volume 2: Classification and Biology. Berlin: Springer. ISBN 0-412-61390-5.
  2. "Thomas Pape".
  3. "Thomas Pape".
  4. "Thomas Pape".

Pape, T., Dahlem, G., Mello Patiu, C.A. de & Giroux, M. 25 June 2010. The World of Flesh Flies (Diptera: Sarcophagidae). Accessed on [4 April 2012].

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