Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Maggots In the Making

When the rain stopped temporarily after 4.5 inches today, I went out to empty some soggy pots on the deck. On a pansy plant was a pair of mating flies. The camera was not all that handy, but they were busy and accommodated me (and each other). As I approached, they flew to the deck rail but I was able to get this picture.


If my research is correct, the huge red eyes and grey stripes on the back identify them as a species of flesh-fly. The female will hatch the eggs in her uterus and then give birth to larvae on a carcass, or occasionally, in an open wound of a human or animal. The larvae will feed off the flesh, thus the name.

A fascinating aside is that the life cycle of these flies has been so well researched that forensic investigators can use them to determine a date of death on a body found. 

1 comment:

Kimberlee said...

That borders on gross, but is still really amazing. Kudos to you for capturing it all photographically! A few years ago, during Inupiat Day, one of the elders was teaching our students how to butcher a caribou. Almost immediately, it was evident that this particular caribou was infested with some sort of fly larvae. They were large (about the size of my thumb) and had been "planted" there as eggs along the spine under the caribou's skin. It was sad to realize that this poor animal had been suffering with the larvae for weeks before it was shot. Gives new meaning to the expression "makes my skin crawl." Scary stuff!!!