Thursday, July 9, 2009


I've been sharing a lot of Diptera lately it seems - but don't worry, I have some Hymenoptera and Coleoptera on the pinning board, and a couple new ones from Kit's mom in Virginia. I don't like this family very much - essentially really large hairy black flies with white and black stripes on the thorax. One distinguishing characteristic is that on the edge of the thorax there is a line of four bristles, with the pattern short-long-short-long. They are also identifiable by the red eyes, red "tail light" and 3 white/gray stripes on the thorax. Other specimens have 2-3 bristles, no bristles, or a different pattern. Unfortunately the bristle pattern is a bit too small for my camera to capture. This fly was found by a stream in Nicene Marks redwood forest in Santa Cruz.

Diptera; Calyptratae; Oestroidea; Sarcophagidae; Sarcophaginae; Sarcophaga
Common Name: Flesh Fly

Flesh flies get their name Sarcophagidae from the greek, "Sarco" meaning "flesh," and "Phage" meaning "eater." They were so named because the larvae are commonly laid in decaying animals and are sometimes so numerous that they fill the animal beneath the skin. However, some species are able to lay their eggs in flesh wounds of living animals. Flesh flies can be found on almost every continent. They are closely related to blow flies (Calliphoridae), which are the metallic blue, green, gold flies one commonly sees with decaying matter also. There is one blow fly which looks similar to the flesh fly in that it also has a few gray stripes on its thorax, but it is generally not as large, does not have the characteristic bristles or red "tail light", and its abdomen has a slightly metallic characteristic.

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