Flesh flies (family Sarcophagidae)

An adult flesh fly on a bird carcass. An adult flesh fly on a bird carcass.

Why are there lots of flies in my house?

When large numbers of flies suddenly appear indoors, they are probably adult flesh flies that have bred on a rat or mouse that died in a wall cavity or ceiling space.


Most flesh flies are decomposers as their white, legless maggots develop in carrion. Females of many species don’t lay eggs but deposit tiny maggots directly onto fresh meat. In Australia flesh flies are rarely involved in myiasis, where maggots attack living tissue of animals or humans. However, flesh flies are medically important in other countries.

Adult Identification

Length 5-15 mm. Adults are greyish with red eyes. There are usually three black stripes on thorax and a 'chessboard' pattern of grey and black on the abdomen.

Flesh flies belong to the Family Sarcophagidae. There are over 70 species of flesh fly in Australia. Many are very similar and require specialist identification.

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