Blowflies (Family Calliphoridae)

Blowflies belong to the Family Calliphoridae. There are over 140 species of blowfly in Australia, including the Australian Sheep Blowfly and the beautiful Snail Parasite Blowfly, Amenia imperialis.

Australian Sheep Blowfly, Lucilia cuprina Adults of the Australian Sheep Blowfly, Lucilia cuprina, gather nectar from flowers. Australian Sheep Blowfly Larvae (Lucilia cuprina) Australian sheep blowfly larvae are white, legless maggots. Snail Parisite Blowfly (Amenia imperialis) The Snail Parasite Blowfly, Amenia imperialis.

The Australian Sheep Blowfly
Lucilia cuprina

The Australian Sheep Blowfly, Lucilia cuprina, is a major pest of the sheep industry in Australia. The white, legless maggots live in soiled wool and feed on decaying flesh on live animals and on fresh carrion. They also breed in household refuse and can enter homes and take advantage of uncooked meat scraps. In summer, their larvae can develop very quickly, resulting in a kitchen or wheelie bin swarming with maggots. Fully grown larvae transform into dark brown, barrel-shaped puparia from which new adults emerge.

There are a few other common blowfly species with similar breeding habits. The Oriental Screw-worm, Chrysomia bezziana, which is present in New Guinea but not yet in Australia, feeds on live animals, initiating the strike from the smallest of open wounds.


Adult length about 6–8 mm. The head is dark-coloured and dusted with silver and the eyes reddish. The thorax and abdomen are metallic green and the wings transparent. Fully grown maggots are about 10 mm long; smooth, white and tapered at one end.

Snail Parasite Blowfly
Amenia imperialis


Many blowflies attack invertebrates, such as insects and snails. The Snail Parasite Blowfly often rests on rocks and fallen wood. Females give birth to large, well-developed larvae that are thought to be parasites of land snails. Common in open and closed forest in eastern Queensland and New South Wales.


Length 10-15 mm. The bright yellow head contrast with the thorax and abdomen which are metallic green or bronze with silvery-white spots. The wings are clear with dark bases.

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.