BioKIDS home

Kids' Inquiry of Diverse Species

Lucilia sericata

What do they look like?

Adult green bottle flies are 8-10 millimeters long. They are metallic green or copper-green in color. Members of this species have hairy backs, yellow mouthparts, and red-brown eyes. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011)

Eggs of green bottle flies are white or yellow colored, elongated, and are tapered on one end. Larvae are 12-18 millimeters long. They are white or yellow colored, cone-shaped, and smooth. Pupae are 9-10 millimeters in length. They start out white in color and darken to light brown, reddish-brown, or black. Pupal green bottle flies have a hard shell. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011)

  • Range length
    8 to 10 mm
    0.31 to 0.39 in

Where do they live?

Lucilia sericata, commonly known as green bottle flies or sheep blowflies, are found across the northern hemisphere. They are invasive to Australia, Central America, and South America. Green bottle flies are found widely across the United States and Canada. This species is one of the most common of those in the genus Calliphoridae. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011; Pruna, et al., 2019)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Green bottle flies are commonly found in or around carcasses, feces, and garbage. They live in many different biomes and habitats, including both temperate and tropical biomes. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011)

How do they grow?

Females lay 200 eggs in a pile on a host. The eggs hatch 18-21 hours after they are laid. Larvae grow and develop for 3-4 days. They go through three stages of growth. The food source and the humidity of the environment impact the time spent as larvae. Once they reach the third stage of growth, larvae leave their hosts and burrow into the soil. They undergo complete metamorphosis while in the soil. This lasts for 7-10 days. Larvae that hatch during the cooler parts of the year may undergo diapause while pupating. This means that they stop developing while in their cocoons. Their development will continue when the temperatures are warm again. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011)

How do they reproduce?

Multiple generations of green bottle flies are laid and hatch every year. There may be 3-4 generations per year before the last generation spends the winter inactive. Green bottle flies lay eggs during cool nights, unlike other species of Calliphoridae. Adults come out from their cocoons, mate, then lay eggs. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011; Heinrich, 2013)

Green bottle flies do not exhibit parental involvement.

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement

How do they behave?

The first adults appear from April to May. They disappear around the end of October. Larvae remain in the area where they were hatched on hot, dry days. They leave their shelters on rainy nights. The larvae may leave in random directions or may leave all at once in a straight line. They have been observed moving in a straight line towards the rising sun. (Heinrich, 2013)

How do they communicate with each other?

Not much is known about the communication and perception of pure green sweat bees. They may use visual, chemical, and tactical perception. Chemical and tactical communication is likely.

What do they eat?

Green bottle flies consume carrion, feces, and garbage. They are necrophagous insects. They arrive at carcasses within minutes of death. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011; Pruna, et al., 2019)

Green bottle flies eat carrion (dead animals and plants), feces, and garbage. They arrive at carcasses to feed within minutes of death. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011; Pruna, et al., 2019)

  • Other Foods
  • dung

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Green bottle flies consume dead animals and plants. They help with biodegradation, which means that they help break down and decompose dead plants and animals. (Heinrich, 2013)

Species (or larger taxonomic groups) used as hosts by this species
  • livestock animals, such as sheep

Do they cause problems?

Green bottle flies can lay eggs in livestock like sheep. The eggs hatch and the larvae infest the animals. These infestations can kill animals and damage populations of livestock. (Pruna, et al., 2019)

How do they interact with us?

Green bottle flies are important for fields of forensic, medical, and veterinary science. In medical science, green bottle flies larvae are used for treatment-resistant infections. In forensic science, green bottle flies may be used to figure out the time of death of discovered bodies. This is done by looking at the development of the larvae. Scientists look at how old the larvae are and can use that to judge the time of death. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011; Pruna, et al., 2019)

  • Ways that people benefit from these animals:
  • research and education

Are they endangered?

Contributors

Deena Hauze (author), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

References

Anderson, M., P. Kaufman. 2011. "Common Name: Common Green Bottle Fly, Sheep Blow Fly" (On-line). Featured Creatures Entomology & Nematology. Accessed July 24, 2020 at http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/livestock/flies/lucilia_sericata.htm.

Cruickshank, I., R. Wall. 2002. Population Dynamics of the Sheep Blowfly Lucilia sericata: Seasonal Patterns and Implications for Control. Journal of Applied Ecology, 39(2): 493-501. Accessed July 24, 2020 at https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy2.library.colostate.edu/stable/827141.

Heinrich, B. 2013. Coordinated Mass Movements of Blow Fly Larvae (Diptera: Calliphoridae). Northeastern Naturalist, 20(4): 23-27. Accessed July 24, 2020 at https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy2.library.colostate.edu/stable/43288173.

Pruna, W., P. Guarderas, D. Donoso, Á. Barragán. 2019. Life cycle of Lucilia sericata (Meigen 1826) collected from Andean mountains. Neotropical Biodiversity, 5(1): 3-9. Accessed July 24, 2020 at https://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/23766808.2019.1578056.

 
University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

BioKIDS home  |  Questions?  |  Animal Diversity Web  |  Cybertracker Tools

Hauze, D. 2020. "Lucilia sericata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 22, 2021 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Lucilia_sericata/

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
Copyright © 2002-2021, The Regents of the University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

University of Michigan