Flesh Flies

What Are They?

Attracted to yards by rotting organic matter, flesh flies are especially fond of carrion. They also gather near scat and feed on trash whenever possible. Properties with compost bins may experience more flesh fly activity.

What Do They Look Like?

flesh fly
flesh fly
image src: cdph.ca.gov

Flesh flies look like common house flies, but have large red eyes and 3/4″ long, tapered bodies.

They’re easily identified by the black and gray stripes that run along their backs.

The checkerboard pattern on their abdomens also makes them easy to spot.

Where Do You Find Them?

Flesh flies can be found across  the United States. Their habit of placing young maggots in the open wounds of animals and people makes them unique. Because of this, their larvae can travel great distances in order to spread far and wide.

What Do They Eat?

Rotten organic matter is the main food source for flesh flies. These insects eat the bodies of rotted mammals until there’s nothing left. Flesh flies also feed on sugar and often consume crumbs near patios and picnic areas. Dog feces is particularly attractive to these pests.

Life Cycle

Unlike similar insects, flesh flies give birth to live larvae.  As their name implies, these pests deposit their young on the skin of living mammals to feed from both light scrapes and deep wounds.

Flesh fly maggots are also placed on top of droppings or rotting carcasses. The hungry larvae speed up decay by eating these rotting materials.

Problems Caused by Flesh Flies

Pet owners can encounter a flesh fly infestation when droppings accumulate in the yard. However, when rodents and other animals die within wall voids and attics, flesh flies can become a real problem.

Fast-paced reproduction in these areas can cause their numbers to swell. Flesh flies then make their way into homes, spreading dysentery and other diseases by landing on tabletops and prepared foods.

Signs of Infestation

The simple presence of flesh flies near homes is enough to cause concern. They’ll often make initial appearances in garages or sheds before moving to other areas of the home. If wildlife pests often inhabit attics or chimneys, these insects won’t be far behind when the animals die.

If an infestation arises, act quickly to remove strong-smelling, organic materials. Flesh fly larvae pupate after about a week and live for an additional eight days. This quick pupation means their numbers can swell within a few weeks.


To deter flesh flies, clean up pet or wildlife droppings around the yard. Make sure any dead animals are also promptly removed to avoid decay. Cover garbage cans with tight-fitting lids, and remove odorous trash from the property.

Learn how to stop a fly infestation.