Flesh Flies belong to the family Sarcophagidae, the word itself derived from the Greek words meaning “flesh-eating.” The difference between flesh flies and regular flies lies in the fact that the former leaves maggots on dead animal carcasses, fecal matter or open wounds when the opportunity presents itself. The latter is more prone to deposit eggs. In the larval stage, some flesh flies act as parasites of other insects. Flesh flies do not act as vectors to transmit disease. However, they can be particularly harmful to livestock, where they infect open wounds and burrow into healthy flesh. They are only a threat to human health in the case of any infected meat being consumed, which results in intestinal infections.
Table of Contents
- Appearance and Size
- Behavior and Habit
- Reproduction and Habitat
- Do Flesh Flies Bite Humans?
- What are Flesh Flies Attracted To?
- Signs of a Flesh Fly Infestation
- 5 Methods to Get Rid of Them Efficiently
- How to Prevent Flesh Flies?
Appearance and Size
Regarding appearance, flesh flies resemble regular house flies. The one difference is that they are larger in size. Other distinguishing characteristics include their gray coloring, a checkerboard pattern covering the abdomen culminating in a reddish-brown tip. Flesh flies also have three black thoracic stripes at the back of the head whereas regular houseflies display four of these racing stripes.
Behavior and Habit
Flesh flies can commonly be found in the animal remains or refuse. It is rare for infestations of flesh flies to occur in residential areas. Instead, they are common in industrial buildings that handle copious amounts of animal carcasses such as meat processing units. In the home, they may inhabit those areas where decomposing matter is deposited. Common locations are trash cans, compost heaps, animal dung and carrion.
Adult flesh flies gain nutrition not by biting humans. Instead, they get their nutrition from liquids, hence their tendency to infest open wounds and animal refuse. In some cases, this may even prove to be beneficial since the flesh fly feeds on the larvae of grasshopper nymphs, the house fly, and blow fly (which is somewhat similar to the flesh fly in habitat). It is also useful in forensic studies where its presence and stage of development in a corpse can aid in the investigation of the time of death.
Since dead animal carcasses act as breeding grounds for flesh flies, it is advisable to check the premises for any overlooked remains in the case of a problematic flesh fly infestation.
Reproduction and Habitat
The flesh fly reproduces in the winter months and reaches the pupal stage and then reaches maturity by the time spring arrives. It is true for temperate regions, variations in the cycle may occur based on differences in species or location. The adult flesh fly goes on to reproduce in which process the female lays eggs. In a single lifetime, an adult female flesh fly can produce hundreds of eggs. Once the larvae have hatched, the female flesh fly will deposit them onto the decaying plant or animal matter or fecal matter in batches of 20 to 40 at a time. These larvae turn into pupae after feeding on the host matter for 3 to 4 days which then burrow into the ground near their food source. In about 10 to 15 days they grow into an adult. The entire life cycle lasts 1 to 2 weeks. This cycle gives rise to several generations in a single year.
Do Flesh Flies Bite Humans?
Flesh flies are not fond of biting humans. Instead, they love to feed on excrement, carrion, and wounds. Sometimes it may cause intestinal infections. However, it only happens if a human eats a contaminated food with larvae.
What are Flesh Flies Attracted To?
Flesh flies mainly attracted to the following three things:
Carcass of a Dead Rodent
The carcass of a dead rodent is particularly favorite diet of flesh flies. A large number of these species are attracted to rodent carcasses.
You will find a large number of flesh flies underneath the trash can. Most of the larvae of this species feed on the garbage in the trash cans.
Flesh flies use animal droppings as a part of the diet. It becomes the largest eating portion of a flesh flies in its whole life.
Signs of a Flesh Fly Infestation
In the event of a flesh fly infestation, you should be able to observe the presence of the flesh fly in its various stages of development. An unusual amount of flies may be found in the interior spaces, usually in the vicinity of lighting fixtures. After infestation, breeding takes place mainly on animal droppings, garbage cans, and the carcass of a dead rodent.
5 Methods to Get Rid of Them Efficiently
Once a flesh fly infestation has been identified, it must be removed. This removal process does not require any special equipment. The only requirement is an adequate amount of time to conduct a thorough search of the premises of your house. The items you need to watch out for in your search are detailed below:
1. Check for animal carcass around the house
The areas to focus your search on are the exterior of the house, including the garden and any drains. These are locations where any small animal, such as a rodent, may have died. In the case of the presence of domesticated cats, search below appliances and areas where the cat gains entrance to the house. Cats have a tendency of bringing in “treats” such as mice and then allowing them to escape. If any decomposing animal carcasses do turn up in your search, then you can safely assume you have found the source. The next step will be to seal the carcass in an airtight container (a simple solution would be a plastic bag, tightly tied) and then dispose of it. It is important that the carcass should be sealed to prevent the infestation from spreading or attracting more of the pests. As an added precaution, the carcass can be burnt. Finally, the area from which the carcass was removed should be properly disinfected using a cleaning agent to ensure that no trace of the flies remains behind.
2. Bug Killer Spray
In order to remove them by sheer force use the traditional over the counter bug killer spray. The spray will kill them in a couple of days.
3. Use vacuum to suck them in
Keep your vacuum cleaner ready to fight with these flesh flies. Use the vacuum cleaner to suck them in. The vacuum will suck plenty of them at a time, and they will die within back quickly due to the presence of dust.
4. Tied up garbage bag tight and move it outside
In case no decaying animal corpses were located in the search, the next step should be to move your trash cans outside so you can check them thoroughly. If your garbage is not frequently disposed of, chances are the infestation has originated in the remains of any discarded food still present in the trash. The solution, in this scenario, is to seal up your garbage bags properly and moved away from the premises of your home.
5. Inspect animal excrement
As with all species of flies, fish flies too lay their eggs on the animal fecal matter. In your search of your residence, be watchful for any feces, especially if you have pets or if stray animals frequent your home. Any decomposing matter, such as manure or compost, provide a habitat for the flesh fly, so ensure that all such substances are moved to a safe distance.
How to Prevent Flesh Flies?
We all know prevention is always better than cure. By all means, either you take the financial factor or consumption of time. Therefore, instead of wasting time and money on getting rid of flesh flies, it is better to adopt the following prevention methods.
Keep the property clean
So far we have come to know that flesh flies is a species which breeds on trash. Therefore, the first step you need to take is to keep your property clean.
Seal holes and gaps
Find the holes and gaps in the room and fill them with cement to close permanently. Flesh flies tend to lay eggs in the holes. So you need to fill all the gaps to minimize the chances of their multiplication.
Keep the door closed
The first and foremost step to stop the flies from infestation is the closure of the main door. These species enter mainly through the main door.
Once the flesh fly infestation has been located and disposed of, it is important to take steps to ensure it does not occur again. Prevention and control procedures must be carried out both in the interior and the exterior of the residence. To begin, you must contact a pest management professional to help you adequately safeguard your home. The professional will first of all conduct an identification to ensure there has been no mistaking of the pest in question, and following an inspection will outline an integrated pest management plan (IPM). The IPM will entail the following steps:
- Identification: to ensure that the offending insect has been properly identified.
- Inspection: to gather the data needed to detail a proper IPM plan.
- Sanitation: to rid the premises of substances that have been providing a habitat for the flesh fly.
- Exclusion: To seal the premises to ensure all access routes are blocked. It may involve the repair or replacement of screens.
- Specific approaches: If an infestation of flesh flies has been located in an area that is difficult to access, the pest management professional may need to use chemical products such as aerosol sprays to decimate the population. Alternately, he may recommend setting light traps to capture any of the flies that venture away from the source and prevent them from being a nuisance
Flesh flies are dirty species and spread disease. You need to be vigilant and don’t let garbage trash accumulating near your living place. In case you have pets, particularly ones that have faced any recent injuries, check for open wounds. In order to prevent flesh flies, ensure that the wound is properly cleaned and covered. If they have infested in large numbers, you need to call professional pest controllers to eradicate them.