name = Calliphoridae

image_caption = "Pollenia rudis" female
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Arthropoda
subphylum = Hexapoda
classis = Insecta
subclassis = Pterygota
infraclassis = Neoptera
superordo = Endopterygota|
ordo = Diptera
subordo = Brachycera
infraordo = Muscomorpha
zoosubsectio = Calyptratae
superfamilia = Oestroidea
familia = Calliphoridae
subdivision_ranks = Subfamilies
subdivision =
*PolleniinaeSources: UniProt,UniProt Taxonomy
name = Calliphoridae
id = 7371
accessdate = 2008-05-31
] ITIS,ITIS|ID=151495|taxon=Calliphoridae|year=2008|date=31 May] Whitworthcite journal
last =Whitworth
first =Terry
title =Keys to the Genera and Species of blow Flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) of America North of Mexico
journal =Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington
volume = 108
issue = 3
pages =pp. 689–725
date =July 2006
url =
accessdate = 2008-05-31
year =2006
doi =10.1043/0013-8797(2006)108 [0689:KTTGAS] 2.0.CO;2
accessdate = 2008-05-31
year =2006
doi_brokendate =2008-07-01

Blow-flies (also frequently spelled blow flies or blowflies), carrion-flies or bottle flies are members of the family Calliphoridae of flies (Diptera). Some members of this family are known as bluebottles, clusterflies or greenbottles. Flies in this family are often metallic in appearance and between 10 to 12 mm in length.

The name blow-fly comes from an older English term for meat that had eggs laid on it, which was said to be fly blown. The first association of the term “blow” with flies was used by William Shakespeare in his plays "Loves Labour Lost", "The Tempest", and "Antony and Cleopatra". [ Brundage, Adrienne, “Calliphoridae.” Texas A&M University, College Station. 13-15 Feb. 2008. ]



Calliphoridae adults are known for being shiny with metallic coloring, often with blue, green, or black bodies. Antennae are 3-segmented, aristate. The arista are plumose the entire length, and the second antennal segment is distinctly grooved. Members of Calliphoridae have vein Rs 2-branched, frontal suture present, and well developed calypters.

The characteristics and arrangement of hairs are used to tell the difference between members of this family. All blow-flies have bristles located on the meron. Having two notopleural bristles and a hindmost posthumeral bristle located lateral to pre-sutural bristle are characteristics to look for when identifying this family.

The thorax has the continuous dorsal suture across the middle, along with well defined posterior calli. The post-scutellum is absent or weakly developed. The costa is unbroken and the sub-costa is apparent on the insect.

For a pictorial atlas explaining these terms go to []

# [ Key to the Calyptrate families]
# [ Useful site for diagnostic features. (In French]
# [ Japanese Calliphoridae]


Most species of blowflies studied thus far are anautogenous; a female requires a substantial amount of protein to develop mature eggs within her ovaries (about 800 µg per pair of ovaries in "Phormia regina"). The current theory is that females visit carrion both for protein and egg laying, but this remains to be proven.Blow-fly eggs,usually yellowish or white in color, are approximately 1.5 mm x 0.4 mm, and, when laid, look like rice balls. While the female blow-fly typically lays 150-200 eggs per batch, she is usually iteroparous, laying around 2,000 eggs during the course of her life. The sex ratio of blowfly eggs is usually 50:50, but one interesting exception is currently documented in the literature. Females from two species of the genus "Chrysomya" ("C. rufifacies" and "C. albiceps") are either arrhenogenic (laying only male offspring) or thelygenic (laying only female offspring).

Hatching from an egg to the first larval stage takes about 8 hours to one day. Larvae have three stages of development (called instars); each stage is separated by a molting event.The instars are separable by examining the posterior spiracles, or openings to the breathing system [] . The larvae use proteolytic enzymes in their excreta (as well as mechanical grinding by mouth hooks) to break down proteins on the livestock or corpse they are feeding on. Blowflies are poikilothermic, which is to say that the rate at which they grow and develop is highly dependent on temperature and species. Under room temperature (about 30 degrees Celsius) the black blowfly "Phormia regina" can go from egg to pupa in 150-266 hours (6 to 11 days). When the third stage is complete the pupa will leave the corpse and burrow into the ground, emerging as an adult 7 to 14 days later.

Food Sources

Adult blow-flies are occasional pollinators, being attracted to flowers with a strong odor resembling rotting meat, such as the American pawpaw or Dead Horse Arum. There is little doubt that these flies utilize nectar as a source of carbohydrates to fuel flight, but just how and when this happens is unknown. One study has been done to prove that the visual stimulus a blow-fly receives from its compound eyes is what is responsible for causing its legs to retract from their flight position and allow it to land on any surface. [ Goodman, L.J. (1960). The Landing Responses of Insects. "The Journal of Experimental Biology," retrieved March 18 2008, from ]

Larvae of most species are scavengers of carrion and dung and most likely constitute the majority of the maggots found in such material, although it is not uncommon for them to be found in close associate with other dipterous larvae from the families Sarcophagidae, Muscidae, and many other acalyptrate muscoid flies.


Worldwide, there are 1100 known species of blowflies, with 228 species in the Neotropics, and a large number of species in Africa and Southern Europe. The most common area to find Calliphoridae species are in the countries of India, Japan, Central America, and Southern United States.

The typical habitat for blow-flies are temperate to tropical areas that provide a layer of loose, damp soil and litter where larvae may thrive and pupate.


This is a selected list of genus from the Palearctic, Nearctic, Malaysia (Japan) and Australasia.

Sources: MYIA,cite journal
last = Sabrosky
first = Curtis W.
title = Family-Group Names in Diptera An annotated catalog
journal = MYIA, The International Journal of the North American Dipterists' Society
url =
volume = 10
publisher = Backhuys Publishers
location = Leidan
date = 1999
accessdate = 2008-05-31
] FE,cite web
url =
title = Taxon details: Calliphoridae
accessdate = 2008-05-31
last = Rognes
first = Dr Knut
coauthors = Pape, Dr Thomas
date = 19 April 2007
format = HTML
work = Fauna Europaea version 1.1,
] Nomina,cite web
url =
title = Diptera: B-C
accessdate = 2008-05-31
date = 1998
format = HTML
work = Nomina - a classification of the Insects of North America as portrayed in Nomina Insecta Nearctica
] A/O DCcite web
url =
title = 109. Family CALLIPHORIDAE
accessdate = 2008-05-31
last = Kurahshi
first = Hiromu
date = 28 May 2007
format = HTML
work = Australasian/Oceanian Diptera Catalog

Economic Importance


Blowflies have caught the interest of researchers in a variety of fields, although the large body of literature on calliphorids has been concentrated on solving the problem of myiasis in livestock. It is estimated that the sheep blowfly "Lucilia cuprina" causes the Australian sheep industry over $170 million a year in losses.

The most common causes of myiasis in humans and animals are the three dipteran families Oestridea, Calliphoridae, and Sarcophagidae. Myiasis in humans is clinically categorized in six ways: dermal and subdermal, facial cavity, wound or traumatic, gastrointestinal, vaginal, and generalized myiasis. If found in humans, the diptera larvae are usually in their first instar. The only treatment necessary is just to remove the maggots, and the patient heals naturally. [ Yazdi , Ismail . "Oral mucosa myiasis caused by Oestrus Ovis." Archives of Iranian Medicine. Academy of Medical Science, I.R. Iran. 17 Apr 2008 . ]


The Primary Screwworm ("Cochliomyia hominivorax") once a major pest in southern United States, has been eradicated through massive release of sterilized males. See Sterile insect technique.

The secondary screwworm ("Cochliomyia macellaria") has become one of the principal species on which to base postmortem interval estimations because its succession and occurrence on decomposing remains has been well defined. The secondary screwworm is found throughout the United States, the American tropics, and in southern Canada during summer months. This species is one of the most common species found on decomposing remains in the southern United States. [ Byrd, Jason H.. "Secondary Screwworms." Featured Creatures Jan 1998 1-2. 28 Mar 2008 . ]

Maggot Therapy

MDT or Maggot Debridement Therapy is the medical use of selected, tested and disinfected fly larvae, including blow-fly maggots, for cleaning non-healing wounds. "Lucilia sericata" ("Phaenicia sericata"), or the common green bottle fly, is the preferred species used in maggot therapy. [Monaghan, Peter "Rx:Maggots, Notes from Academe", The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 1 2007 (Vol. LIII, No. 39), p. A48.] Medicinal maggots do three things: clean out wounds by eating away the dead, infected tissue, kill off the bacteria, and stimulate wound healing. One problem with this type of therapy is that some species of flies eat healthy tissue as well, including screwworms. This type of therapy can be used to treat pressure ulcers, diabetic foot wounds, venous stasis ulcers and post surgical wounds. [ Sherman, R. "Maggot Therapy Project." Maggot Therapy. Sep 2006. 28 Mar 2008 . ]


Adults may vector pathogens of diseases such as dysentery. Flies, most commonly Calliphoridae, have frequently been associated with disease transmission in humans and animals as well as myiasis. Studies and research have linked "Calliphora" and "Lucilia" to vectors of causal agents of bacterial infections. These larvae, commonly seen on decaying bodies, feed on carrion while the adults can be necrophagous or vegetative. During the process of decay, microorganisms and/or mycobacterium may be released through the body and may become infected during this process. Flies arrive at the scene and lay their eggs. The larvae begin eating and breaking down the corpse simultaneously ingesting these organisms which is the first step of one transmission route. [ EBSCOhost. 01 Apr 2008 . ]

Paratuberculosis in cattle, pigs and birds ("M. a. avium") have been isolated and recovered from these flies through several different experiments. [EBSCOhost. 04Apr 2008 .]

Other potential vectors and threatening diseases include Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus [EBSCOhost. 02 Apr 2008 .] in New Zealand and Strike. Although Strike is not limited to blow flies; these maggots are a major source of this skin invasion causing lesions, and if severe enough, may be lethal. Strike starts when blow-flies lay eggs in a wound or fecal material present on the sheep. When the maggots hatch, they begin feeding on the sheep and thus irritating it. As soon as the first wave of maggots hatch, they attract more blow-flies causing the Strike. Currently, there is no insecticides for blowfly prevention, but precautionary measures may be taken, such as docking tails, shearing, and keeping the sheep overall healthy. [ Peacock, Andrew. "Blowfly in Sheep." New Foundland and Labrador Agriculture 31 Aug 2004 1-2. 15 Apr 2008 . ]

Salmonellosis has also been proven to be transmitted by the blow fly through saliva, feces and tarsi. Adult flies may be able to spread pathogens via their sponging mouthparts, vomit, intestinal tract, sticky pads of their feet or even their body or leg hairs. [Olsen, Alan R. 1998. "Regulatory Action Criteria for Filth and Other Extraneous Materials*1 III. Review of Flies and Foodborne Enteric Disease." Science Direct Volume 28 (23): 199-211. 01 Apr 2008 .]

As vectors of many diseases, the importance of identifying the transmissible agents, the route and prevention are becoming increasingly important. With the ability to lay hundreds of eggs in a lifetime and the presence of thousands of larvae at a time in such close proximity, the potential for transmission is high especially at ideal temperatures.

Forensic Importance

Blow-flies are usually the first insects to come in contact with carrion because they have the ability to smell death from up to ten miles (16 km) away. Upon reaching the carrion, females deposit eggs onto the body. Since development is highly predictable if the ambient temperature is known, blow-flies are considered a valuable tool in forensic science. Traditional estimations of time since death (namely rigor mortis and algor mortis) are generally unreliable after 72 hours and often entomologists are the only officials capable of generating an accurate approximate time interval. The specialized discipline related to this practice is known as forensic entomology []

"Calliphora vicina" and "Cynomya mortuorum" are important flies of forensic entomology. Other forensically important Calliphoridae are "Phormia regina", "Calliphora vomitoria", "Calliphora livida", "Lucilia cuprina", "Lucilia sericata", "Lucilia illustris", "Chrysomya rufifacies", "Chrysomya megacephala", and "Cochliomyia macellaria". One interesting myth states that species from the genus "Lucilia" can sense death and show up right before it even occurs. [ Brundage, Adrienne, “Calliphoridae.” Texas A&M University, College Station. 8 Feb. 2008. ]


* Fritz Konrad Ernst Zumpt Calliphorinae, in Lindner, E. "Fliegen Palaearkt. Reg". 64i, 140 p. (1956)
* Fan, C.T. "Key to the common synanthropic flies of China". Peking [= Beijing] . xv + 330 p. In Chinese but really excellent illustrations. (1965).
* Kano, R. and Shinonaga, S. "Calliphoridae (Insecta: Diptera) (Fauna Japonica)" , Tokyo Biogeographical Society of Japan, Tokyo.( 1968). In English.
* Lehrer, A.Z., Diptera. Familia "Calliphoridae". In: Fauna R.S.R., Insecta, vol. XI,(12), Edit. R.S.R., Bucuresti, 1972, 245 p. In Romanian.
* Rognes, K. "Blowflies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) of Fennoscandia and Denmark". Fauna Entomologica Scandinavica, Volume 24.
* E. J. Brill/Scandinavian Science Press Ltd. Leiden.(1991).


External links

* [ Calliphoridae Taxonomy Central]
** [ Family description and images]
*PDFlink| [ Field Guide pdf Free download]
* [ Image Gallery]
* [ Examples of maggot therapy]
* [ secondary screwworm] on the UF / IFAS Featured Creatures Web site

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • blow-fly — 1720, from FLY (Cf. fly) (n.) + BLOW (Cf. blow) (v.1) in an obsolete sense to deposit eggs, to infect with eggs, in reference to to insects, apparently connected with old notions of natural history [OED] …   Etymology dictionary

  • blow fly — blow′ fly or blow′fly n. ent any of numerous insects of the family Calliphoridae that deposit their eggs or larvae on carrion or excrement or in wounds of living animals • Etymology: 1815–25 …   From formal English to slang

  • blow-fly — n a fly that lays its eggs on meat or wounds …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • blow|fly — «BLOH FLY», noun, plural flies. any one of various two winged flies that deposit their eggs on meat or in wounds or fruit …   Useful english dictionary

  • Blow Fly — Baton Rouge (roman) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Bâton Rouge (homonymie). Baton Rouge est un roman policier américain de Patricia Cornwell publié en 2003. Le titre original est Blow Fly. C est le douzième roman de la série qui met en scène… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • blow fly — any of numerous dipterous insects of the family Calliphoridae that deposit their eggs or larvae on carrion, excrement, etc., or in wounds of living animals. Also, blowfly. [1815 25] * * * ▪ insect also spelled  blowfly,    any member in a family… …   Universalium

  • blow fly — noun large usually hairy metallic blue or green fly; lays eggs in carrion or dung or wounds • Syn: ↑blowfly • Hypernyms: ↑fly • Hyponyms: ↑bluebottle, ↑Calliphora vicina, ↑greenbottle, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • blow-fly — noun (C) a fly that lays its eggs on meat or wounds …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • blow fly — 1. any member of the genus Calliphora. 2. any member of the family Calliphoridae that lays its eggs on injured or decayed animal flesh and causes cutaneous myiasis; this includes most species of Calliphora and Phaenicia and some of Cochliomyia… …   Medical dictionary

  • blow-fly — …   Useful english dictionary

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