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Flesh Fly (Sarcophaga spp.)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Flesh Fly.

 Updated: 11/15/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




Some Flesh Flies are found on dead and rotting animal tissue, making them useful forensics tools when determining time of death for human victims.



Knowledge of the life cycle of certain genera of Flesh Flies can be valuable information. The presence of adults and larvae at a crime scene can actually assist a forensics specialist in determining how long a body has been in that area. The genus Sarcophaga lays live maggots, not eggs, on carcasses, and their size and life stage changes quickly. Noting both the time of a body's discovery as well as the life stage of the present flies may prove useful information in trying to determine time of death.

Adults in Sarcophaga have red eyes and clear wings. Their thorax ('shoulder area') has alternating black and gray stripes that may look metallic. The black abdomen ends in a brownish-red tip and spiky hairs. They are active all spring and summer. They can be found in open areas like fields, parks, meadows and parking lots. They may also be found in backyards and forests. This genus consists of almost 80 species and spans the entire North American continent. Adult Flesh Flies drink animal fluids and may also visit piles of dung. Flesh Flies are some of the first insects to visit a dead animal. Their larvae (maggots) eat the rotting, decaying flesh of vertebrates as well as dead insects. Many of them remain on the carcass they were born on until they pupate, crawling over each other at a single feeding site, the sight of which may cause nausea in some people.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Diptera
        Family: Sarcophagidae
          Genus: Sarcophaga
            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Sarcophaga spp.
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 14mm (0.39in to 0.55in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, gray, silver, red
Descriptors: fast, flying, carrion, rotten, corpse, eyes, silver
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.