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Blow flies are common in our area and probably occur in houses and similar locations at least as often as the house fly. Blow flies are a diverse group ranging from 6 to 14 mm in length and generally having a metallic sheen to their bodies.
The black blow fly has a dark, olive-green body, black legs, and orange pubescence around the mesothoracic spiracles. The secondary screwworm fly also has a green body, but its head is predominantly orange.
Blow flies covered here occur throughout the contiguous states and in many other temperate regions of the world as well. Blow flies lay eggs in decomposing organic matter, like garbage, animal manure, decaying vegetables, grass clippings and poorly managed compost piles. These flies are important in nature in the decay process of animal carcasses and are usually the first insects to arriveâ€”within hours or even minutesâ€”after an animal dies.
Life Cycle : Blow flies passes through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, adult. The eggs are approximately 1 mm long and are laid in a loose mass consisting of 50 to 200 eggs. Group oviposition by several females results in large masses of thousands of eggs that may completely cover a decomposing carcass.
The eggs hatch in as little as eight hours (depending on air temperature) and the larvae feed on carrion until they reach maturity. Upon maturity, they migrate away from the carrion to search for a suitable pupation site. Pupation usually occurs within the first inch of topsoil or under leaf litter, rocks, or fallen limbs. During this time, the larval skin shrinks and hardens to form the puparium which is dark brown in color.
This stage may last as long as 12 days; however, the adults can emerge in only seven to eight days depending on temperature. The adults can live up to six weeks.
Management : Sanitation and denying flies entry into the home are the major means of controlling these pests.Keep garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids. Spray garbage cans frequently with insecticides labeled for this purpose if the flies are numerous. Dispose of all fly and maggot feeding areas including plant and animal refuse. If the flies are abundant outdoors and around the home, spray the outside fly resting places and all screens and window borders with an insecticide labeled for this use. Treat inside areas where flies congregate with household sprays and bombs labeled for this use.
Damage :Blow flies deposit eggs in castration and dehorning wounds or on dirty, wet wool. The larvae which soon hatch feed on decaying flesh or matted hair. Infested wounds often become inflamed and the hair or wool falls out. Blood poisoning may result.As a rule, most blow fly larvae do not attack healthy tissue. Mature larvae of blow flies, however, have been known to burrow deep into healthy tissue after spending earlier developmental stages in superficial wounds.
Blow flies â€“ Life Cycle
Control : Sanitation via removal and proper disposal of garbage, carcasses and similar breeding media is probably the most satisfactory method of limiting blow fly populations. Sheep production requires other preventive measures such as breeding hornless animals, having lambing occur as early in spring as possible, sheering of dams before lambing occurs, docking lambsâ€™ tails, removing dirty, ragged wool, and treating wounds.
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