Collecting and preparing Sarcophagidae. Our tips for optimal collecting and preparation of Sarcophagidae for identification and recording purposes can be downloaded here. Any feedback and questions are most welcome!

Identification keys. See the link in the News section, above, for the latest version of the key to adult Sarcophagidae. User feedback is most appreciated and contributes to improving the key.

Records. Submit your records in Excel format to ukfleshflies[at] or directly on iRecord, if possible with diagnostic photos to facilitate verification.

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Resources: A great and frequently updated resource is Steven Falk’s collection of flesh fly images on Flickr.

What are flesh flies?

The calyptrate family Sarcophagidae (Diptera: Oestroidea) includes 65 species occurring in the British Isles. These include the well known «flesh flies» in the genus Sarcophaga, medium to large sized flies with tessellated patterns on the abdomen. Sarcophaga species are frequently seen basking on sunlit fences, rocks and other structures. They also engage in «summiting» at hilltops and other high points in landscapes.

Miltogramma punctata – a «satellite fly».

The family contains three subfamilies:

Miltogramminae: Kleptoparasites of solitary wasps and bees, sometimes known as «Satellite flies» from the habit of some species of closely following host species back to their nests.

Paramacronychiinae: Flies with a diverse biology ranging across necrophagy and predation of snails to parasites or parasitoids of mammals and insects.

Sarcophaginae: The typical «flesh flies» described above. Their biology is very varied and includes predators and parasitoids of various insects, breeding in animal faeces, carcasses, dead snails, decomposing organic matter. The biology of many species is poorly understood or completely unknown.

Audition Flies

Some members of two groups of parasitic flies ( Sarcophagidae /Emblemasoma and Tachinidae/Ormiini) use acoustic cues to approach singing crickets and tettigoniids. Female flies locate the singing males of host species and deposit their larvae on them ( Cade, W. H., 1975; Walker, T. J., 1993; Allen, G. R., 1995 ). Frequency sensitivity of the flies’ ears is adapted to the host’s communication signals. This allows peripheral filtering of an essential feature for host recognition ( Robert, D. et al., 1992; Lakes-Harlan, R. and Heller, K.-G., 1992 ). Convergent song preferences are shared between female crickets, G. lineaticeps (38 pulses s −1 0.8–4.6 chirps s −1 ) and the fly O. ochracea in Californian populations. Both crickets and flies prefer male calling songs with relatively high chirp rates and long chirp durations ( Wagner, W. E., 1995 ). In Therobia leonidei, which parasitize tettigoniids, three auditory interneurons with tonic and phasic response properties have been characterized. They ascend from the sensory neuropil in the thoracic ganglion complex and terminate in the brain ( Stumpner, A. and Lakes-Harlan, R., 1996 ).

Sarcophagidae — Sar·co·phag·i·dae .sär kə faj ə .dē n pl a family of dipteran flies of the superfamily Muscoidea that include flesh flies, some that cause myiases, and others that develop in organic materials (as manure) * * * Sar·co·phag·i·dae (sahr″ko… … Medical dictionary

sarcophagidae — sar·co·phag·i·dae … English syllables

sarcophagidae — ˌsärkəˈfajəˌdē noun plural Usage: capitalized Etymology: New Latin, from Sarcophaga, type genus + idae : a family of two winged flies (superfamily Muscoidea) that includes flesh flies, some that cause myiases, and others that develop in organic… … Useful english dictionary

Sarcophagidé — Sarcophagidae Sarcophagidae … Wikipédia en Français

МУХИ СЕРЫЕ МЯСНЫЕ — (Sarcophagidae). Муха саркофага заметно отличается от люцилии по внешнему облику, но образ жизни у нее тот же. Это пепельно серая муха с бурыми полосками на спине и серебристым отливом на брюшке, украшенном шашечным рисунком. Она крупнее люцилии … Жизнь насекомых

Sarcophaga bullata — Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum … Wikipedia

Flesh-fly — Taxobox name = Flesh flies image width = 250px image caption = Sarcophaga sp. regnum = Animalia phylum = Arthropoda subphylum = Hexapoda classis = Insecta subclassis = Pterygota infraclassis = Neoptera superordo = Endopterygota| ordo = Diptera… … Wikipedia

Calliphoridae and Sarcophagidae have medical and forensic importance. Species of these families are the first insects colonizing corpses and are, therefore, useful in establishing postmortem interval and as indicators in corpse transfer. The synanthropic index (SI) measures the relation of dipteran species with human settlements. Our main objective was to determine the synanthropic index of these families during the rainy and dry seasons in Bogotá. Captures were carried out using traps with baits (beef liver) in three zones (urban, rural, and forest areas). In the family Calliphoridae, the most abundant species were Calliphora vicina (Robineau-Desvoidy) with a sinanthropy index (SI) of +83.1, followed by Lucilia sericata (Meigen) (SI = +92.2) and Compsomyiops verena (Walker) (SI = +42.0). Calliphora nigribasis (Macquart) was not associated with human settlements, while Sarconesiopsis magellanica (Le Guillou) was present in the three zones and considered hemisynanthropic (SI = +19.0). Roraimomusca roraima (Townsend) was reported for the first time in Bogotá and was a non-synanthropic species (SI = -36.0). On the other hand, in Sarcophagidae, three species were collected: Ravinia rufipes (Twonsend), Ravinia colombiana (Lopes), and Boettcheria sp1, which were abundant in the rural and forest zones, the first having a dual characterization as synanthropic and hemisynanthropic, while the other two were hemisynanthropic. Our data showed differences in the association of Calliphoridae species with the three environments, whereas Sarcophagidae were distributed in locations with a lower human impact.

Oestridae Causing Myiasis

Domenico Otranto , . Filipe Dantas-Torres , in Reference Module in Biomedical Sciences , 2020


Within the Oestroidea super-family, larvae of flies belonging to the families Oestridae, Calliphoridae and Sarcophagidae feed on dead or living animal tissues, therefore developing from first to second and third instar larvae (L1, L2 and L3). In their attitude in feeding on and infesting alive tissues, some of these larvae cause infestations known as myiases ( Colwell et al., 2006 ). While Calliphoridae and Sarcophagidae larvae may feed of dead or living tissues, therefore causing facultative myiases and being also of forensic importance, the Oestridae includes flies which larvae cause only obligatory myiases. Oestridae contains a large number of species, about 150, whose larvae parasitize a wide range of hosts, from mice to elephants. They display a high degree of host specificity and their biological life cycle may be extremely complex as a result of a longlasting adaptation to the host ( Otranto, 2001 ). The four sub-families of medical and veterinary importance are Gasterophilinae, Oestrinae, Hypodermatinae and Cuterebrinae. Within the Gasterophilinae, the most important genus, Gasterophilus, consists of eight species, three of which are worldwide distributed. The sub-family Oestrinae includes nine genera and 34 species (known as nostril flies), the sub-family Cuterebrinae includes six genera and 83 species and the sub-family Hypodermatinae includes six species of the genus Hypoderma which are of major veterinary concern ( Russell et al., 2013 ). In the following, we summarize the epidemiology, life cycle, the medical and veterinary importance as well as the control of the main species belonging to the family Oestridae.

Species identification of flesh flies

Although the species of sarcophagids can be identified by their morphological characteristics of male terminalia, they present as being very numerous and diverse [ 10 , 91 , 92 ]. Thus, species identification based on morphological methods requires specialized taxonomic knowledge, only a few specialists are able to identify larvae of forensically relevant insects to species level [ 13 , 93 ]. To implement the use of sarcophagids for PMI estimation, a method for easy and accurate species-level identification at any life stage is required. DNA-based method is an alternative method proposed to identify species credibly and rapidly with lower requirement of sample preservation. DNA sequence data would serve as standards for further analysis [ 94 ]. Phylogenies also improve the understanding of the taxonomy and systematics of flesh flies [ 95–99 ].

At present, the partial genes of mitochondrial genome have been broadly applied to the species-level identification, mainly including the different fragments of Cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene [ 94 , 95 , 100–115 ], in addition to the Cytochrome c oxidase subunit II (COII) gene [ 108–113 ], 16S ribosomal RNA (16S rRNA) [ 108–119 ], 12S ribosomal RNA (12S rRNA) [ 119 ], the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) dehydrogenase subunit 5 [ 108 , 109 ], the ribosomal internal transcribed spacer regions [ 119 , 120 ] and the nuclear period and 28S rRNA genes [ 111 , 112 ] (Table 2). Although these markers could be potentially served as discriminatory tools in identification of forensically important flesh flies, available gene sequences are deficient in the species-level identification of Sarcophagidae on GenBank databases, such as a flaw of insufficient discrimination power in utility of short gene fragments. The use of complete gene remains time-consuming and has a higher requirement for the preservation quality of specimens [ 104 ]. Until recently, a set of 4-SNP marker system has been developed for the identification of forensically important sarcophagid flies using the Pyrosequencing (PSQ) method, which showed high discriminating power, specificity of PCR amplification and particular advantages for degraded insect samples [ 121 ].

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