World of Flesh Flies
Adult morphology


Flesh flies are generally medium-sized to large (10-25 mm), robust flies, but a few species are smaller (5-10 mm) and some species produce grossly undersized individuals given sparse larval resources. The male is dichoptic or with semi-narrow frons, never truly holoptic; the female is dichoptic. Subscutellum concave. Abdominal sternites without sensilla trichodea (alpha setae). Female ovo-larviparous (common oviduct with a bilobed incubatory pouch) and with short, non-telescopic terminalia; common oviduct with bilobed incubatory pouch. Bacilliform sclerites shortened and widely diverging; phallus with undivided dorsomedian sclerotisation, yet entire distiphallus mostly strongly modified; phallotreme often bi- or tripartite.

Members of the subfamily Sarcophaginae are usually easily recognized from the combination of a thorax with three strong black stripes and a speckled or checker-board patterned abdomen. Species of the subfamily Miltogramminae possess neither the three dorsal stripes on thorax nor the checker-board pattern on abdomen, and they often have a superficial appearance of small Tachinidae, quite often even a similar behavior. Some species of especially the Neotropical Lepidodexia (s.str.) and Lepidodexia (Johnsonia) are darker and more bristly than generally in the Sarcophaginae and may be taken for Tachinidae, yet all these species lack the greatly swollen subscutellum characteristic of the latter family. However, the slender-bodied and somewhat tachinid-like Lepidodexia (Johnsonia) woodorum (Pape) has a moderately swollen subscutellum, a tongue-shaped lower calypter and a small metathoracic spiracle like the Rhinophoridae, which in combination with a notopleuron showing no trace of subprimary bristles plus a hind trochanter without posterior setae makes this species difficult to key out with other Sarcophaginae. The plumose arista, absence of coxopleural streak, and exposed abdominal sternites in the male reveal the subfamilial position, and the setose wing vein CuA1 is shared with other species of Lepidodexia (Johnsonia). Bright metallic green or blue species, like Lepidodexia (Chlorosarcophaga) and L. (Chloronesia) but even a few L. (Notochaeta), may be taken for Calliphoridae, but they have a more elongated abdomen and differ by having subprimary notopleural bristles, normal-sized posterior spiracle, setae posteriorly on hind trochanter and different male and female terminalia.

Larvae typical maggots. Posterior spiracles of larva I-III mostly placed in a recession or cavity, yet this cavity may be flat and almost indiscernible in some species. Spiracular slits set at an acute angle relative to the median plane, often almost vertical, and in many species with a 'kink' near base; peritreme in second and third instar larva incomplete and without ecdysial scar.

Content by T. Pape on behalf of the editorial group.
Please send any comments about these pages to Thomas Pape.
Last updated: 25 October 2009.
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