Focus on greenbottle fly

In the sunshine I spotted these greenbottle flies. While not necessarily considered a beauty the colour of the casing in the sun is as stunning as any jewel. So I thought I’d research them for this focus feature.

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Greenbottles are one of the most common blow flies (family ¬†Calliphoridae) along with heir cousins the bluebottle. However, unlike the bluebottle, who is best known for irritating people inside, the greenbottle prefers to be outside. The name blow fly is an old English expression. Meat that was “blown” had eggs laid on.

The greenbottle fly lays its eggs on decaying tissue, on corpses generally. From this the larvae, fly maggots, hatch. Then after three to ten days, depending on temperature and food, the maggot pupates. After six to fourteen days the fly emerges and the endless cycle continues.

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Pretty gross you might be thinking. However this knowledge has been used by forensic scientists to give time of death. Absence of fly maggots or evidence of a disturbed life cycle can show tampering with a body. So I think we should raise a glass to thank the humble fly for aiding the silent witness team in their work.

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While the fly is never going to be as popular as butterflies it’s colours can be just as impressive of what nature can achieve. I will finish with a recommendation for a children’s book that makes you think about whether to splat the fly next time it’s in the house annoying you.

The fly-Peter Horacek

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