Common Green Bottle Fly
external image green%20bottle%20fly%20johnston%20mill%2061607.JPGBinomial Name: Lucilia sericata
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Family: Calliphoridae
Genus: Lucilia
Species: L.sericata
Also Known As: Phaenicia sericata, Lucilia nobilis, Musca nobilis and Musca sericata

The order Diptera comes from the Latin roots of di (meaning two) and ptera (meaning wings). This was simply given to these flies for their pair of wings. The term "Blowfly" is one of the most popular common names for the family Calliphoridae. Blowfly comes from an older English term. This term was about meat that had eggs laid on it, which was said to be fly blown in many of Shakespeare's works. Scientists have heavily studied and been interested mainly in its life cycle and habits.

This is some of the sounds of different Common Green Bottle Flies.


Physical Appearence


The eggs of the Common Green Bottle Fly are white or pale yellow. Individual eggs are elongated toward one end and are about 1.5 mm long. They also can be slightly tapered toward the elongated end. Eggs sometimes reflect the later shapes and colors of a different cycle later on.


The third and last instar of the larva stage
The third and last instar of the larva stage

The larva of this insect come out to be a pale yellow or grayish color with a size of usually 10-14 mm long. Larvae have pointed heads with hook-like mouthparts. They appear in a conical shape. The larva grows through three stages of changes within instars. Maggot is another term this insect is referred to.


Pupa are cased into a light brown or black simple protective shell. This brown encaseing is the tough, hardened skins of what is considered somewhat of the fourth instar for the larvae. The length of the pupa is 9 to 10 mm long and 3 to 4 mm wide. A picture of the Pupa can be seen in the life cycle section.


The size of an adult bottle fly usually grows somewhat bigger from the larva stage yet the average range is still around 10-14 mm. In comparison, it is somewhat larger than a housefly. Common Green Bottle flies are known for their metallic green, blue or golden shine to its back. In further examination, three cross-grooves and 6-8 black bristle-like, or rough, hairs on it's thorax. The wings are clear with the addition of light brown veins. Both the legs and antennae are black. The head holds true to most flies with large eyes under the compound eye category. They also have sponge-like mouth parts such as a house fly would.

green_bott_smlk.jpgDistinguishing Characteristics

Proper identification of the Common Green Bottle Fly requires two characteristics. These two aspects of the bottle fly are important because the Common Green Bottle Fly is almost identical to its sister species, the Lucilia cuprina. In fact, microscopic examination is needed to tell the two species apart. The first main characteristic of the Common Green Bottle Fly is the presence of three bristles on the dorsal mesothorax. This body region is located on the middle of the back of the fly and can be most used when identifying the adult life stage of the fly. The Common Green Bottle Fly has 6–8 bristles on each side while Lucilia cuprina have only one. The second identifying characteristic is found when looking at the femoral joint in the first pair of legs. When looking at the Lucilia cuprina species, the femoral joint is metallic green. Rather, when investigating the Common Green Bottle Fly, this joint is a blue-black color.

This podcast helps identify the body parts of an insect to help you then identify this fly:


Common Green Bottle Flies are usually found around fresh, unprotected and open wounds of animals matter. Therefore, they can be found

around trashcans, dumpsters or any rotting corpses. They mostly prefer moist and warm climates for these places become their homes. At anywhere around 80˚F or above, the flies are happy and content. At below 50˚F, they can not survive as well. They often times are found in more of a setting not involving humans where the animal matter is the actual carcasses of dead animals where they live simply within nature itself. As one can see, Common Green Bottle Fly's habitat depends on the food and temperature. These two factors are very important for their life span and location.

To the right is a video of a fly resting on a dandelion. This Common Green Bottle Fly most likely lives nearby for these insects feed on nectar.

Geographic Range

Map of Common Green Bottle Fly species in the world

The Common Green Bottle Fly is very common all over the world, espically the southern hemisphere. It is a coastal bug and dominates most of Africa and Australia. However, the Common Green Bottle Fly has been found in all countries. This geographic range displayed from the map show countries with the right range of temperature these flies need. Using the map, pinpoints show the main areas of the Common Green Bottle Fly. However, the remaining unpinpointed countries still house this insect. The countries such as Canada and Greenland are mostly too cold for the flies to comfortably live there all of the time.

Map of Common Green Bottle Fly species in the USA

Other than the obvious dominate locations (Africa and Asia) for the Common Green Bottle Fly, the United States also reflects its desire for warm and coastal feelings. Therefore, the part of the United States that is closer to the equator, are occupied by the flies more often. Still, the northen half of the country is very populated with these species of blowflies during the summer months. In the winter months, smaller numbers of the Common Green Bottle Fly can still be found. In fact, upon looking at the map, it is found that most of America is pinpointed. The states that are not have few numbers of this insect. Unpinpointed states include Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Maine, Arkansas, South Dakota and North Dakoka.

Mating Behavior

Common Green Bottle Flies come in great populations with their ability to mate in a short period of time,
The mating of two flies
The mating of two flies
especially during the mating season. These flies usually mate right by their food (which is also considered to be
their home) and female flies lay their eggs as close to the nutrients as possible. Another reason mating takes place in this location is because many species of blowflies are anautogenous.

Female flies have somewhat rotated reproductive organs compared to those in other insects. Male flies come to mate by intially flying right on top of the female. They are both facing the same direction at first, but, because of the rotated reproduction organs, the male will turn around to face the opposite direction. Turning around forces the male to lie on its back or sometimes upright in order for the sexual reproduction to continue.

Life Cycle


The life cycle begins when the eggs are laid and new life begins. The time spent in the egg stage of their life of the
There are three stages of instars in the lifecycle
There are three stages of instars in the lifecycle

Common Green Bottle Fly is very short. Depending on the weather, eggs can hatch anywhere from 8–10 hours to three days. The warmer and moister the environment is, the shorter the hatching time will take. Some cases during summer months have been found where the eggs seem to hatch almost immediately. The summer season is the most active time for the eggs to be laid.

Larva and Instars

Once the eggs of the Common Green Bottle Fly hatch, the larva goes through three stages of instars. Due to where the eggs are laid, nutrients and dead tissue are available so readily to quickly advance the fly through each stage of its life. Other factors for the speed of the growth levels depend on the temperature. Like the egg cycle of their life, warmer temperatures allow for quicker transitions. At the prime temperature of around 80˚F, or 27˚C, the first larva instar will last about 31 hours. In much shorter time, the second instar will take about 12 hours and the third instar will take about 40 hours to end the larva stage of this blowfly. During these instars and molts, the fly grows each time. An example of colder temperatures and the effect they have would be at about 60˚F. At this temperature, the first larva instar may take about 53 hours. A dramatic change from the warmer temperature, the second instar can take 42 hours. Lastly, third instar will take about 98 hours. At the time the third instar has finished growing, the larva inside will fall into the soil.


Within the soil, the larva starts to pupate. Pupa are found in the soil surrounding the decaying animal carcass. Sometimes, growing in garbage to substitute animal matter can be a problem for this fly for no soil maybe readily available. The Common Green Bottle Fly makes due with the situation by then pupating within the garbage or areas around the trash. Yet, the survival rates are thus lower. This whole process can take around 6 to 14 hours. During winter months, it may stay frozen inside the depths of the soil until it heats to a decent temperature for survival. This stage in the life is often confused as being an instar. However, it is considered to be its own stage in the life of the Common Green Bottle Fly even though is very similar. This reason this is considered differently is for it is when the fly is classified as being an adult and proceeds into the part of its life where growing decreases.


After the pupa has transformed, the adult fly will simply come up from the soil on its own. Once emerging, they then feed once again with the animal tissue or trash. After around 2 weeks of adult life, females will lay eggs after mating with males. In their lifetime, mothers will lay about 130 to 172 eggs. Overall, this lifecycle takes an average of 2 to 3 weeks to complete and the Common Green Bottle Fly will go through 3-4 generations in each year. The most active time of the year, summer, sometimes shortens their life span while cooler seasons may extend it.

Feeding Habits

Common Green Bottle Flies on a decaying goose
Common Green Bottle Flies on a decaying goose

Food is a very important part in a Common Green Bottle Fly's life. Where they eat their food becomes their habitat and the food itself becomes their nesting ground. With this, the fly's most common food is decaying organic matter. Therefore, wounds of wild and domestic often attract high amount of Common Green Bottle Flys depending on the area and location. Sheep are a particular favorite animal to attack and thus eat. Being it's
primary host, the fly is even referred to as "the sheep blowfly". Since they also may live within nature and a woods setting, adult Common Green Bottle Flies are sometimes attracted to nectar and animal feces as well. To feed, maggots use their hook-like mouths to somewhat tease apart the tissue surrounding them. Adults more suck and sponge the nutrients out of their own food.

The video below shows an upclose look on the adult flies eating with also a few on some larva and eggs enjoying the meal as well.

Ecological Role

Effects for Humans

One use for humans of the Common Green Bottle Fly is displayed in forensic science. With the life cycle being documented thoroughly, the stage of the insect’s development on a corpse is used to calculate a minimum period of colonization. Forensic scientists realized that if the Common Green Bottle Flies have only laid eggs, it has probably been a shorter amount of time then when the larvae begins pupating. The short amount of time during the life cycle helps aid in determining the time the victim died. The Common Green Bottle Fly is one one of the first insects to start colonize and grow on a corpse. Other than the time of death, the fly's presence can display the conditions of the corpse itself. In most cases, if the insects are on their path of normal and usual development, there is a greater probability that the body has been undisturbed. In contrast, if the insects are on a path of a confused or different life cycle, scientists are led to believer post-mortem tampering has occured. An example of a confused life path for the Common Green Bottle Fly would be absence from a whole or part of a decaying body.

Medical use is the second effect of the Common Green Bottle Fly. In 1826, Meigen, a famous German entomologist who is also credited with creating the bionomial name of this fly, removed larvae from the eyes and facial cavities of a human patient. It is this work and other pioneers that identified this species in the Diptera order with two important clinical improvements. The first was finding the larvae stage was able to remove wounds among people with extremely low probability of myiasis. Releasing this larvae have even helped regenerate some tissue in these people after being removed. This is because with the dead tissue out of the way, it provides more room for new tissue to grow and for scientists to help rebuild the damages. Dead tissue is also a perfect place for bacteria and infection to grow. Maggot Therapyis continually being researched for it is believed to help in cases where surgery is unrealistic such as these difficult cases. (Surgery to remove dying tissue is unrealistic for often, when tissue is dying, it looks very similar to alive tissue. Doctors are only 100% confident of dead tissue. Second, more studies have shown that when releasing the larvae in a controlled environment, like a test tube or petri dish, scientists and doctos have been successful in channeling fibroblastproduction to a specific wound. Seen as being espically helpful for wound healing, this is important to be able to direct this cell and use a natural method of wound treatment. The video at the right is a live podcast discussing one man's effects from maggot therapy.

Another effect the Common Green Bottle Fly causes for humans is in the economic field. As mentioned in the uses for other organisms, sheep in particular are infested with this fly. Reports in the UK show that the estimated blowfly infections strike around 1 million sheep and 80% of sheep farms each year. To treat the infected sheep is a great sum for this hard-working farmers but on top of that, the farmers must then spend the money to control the Common Green Bottle Fly from striking once again. To prevent the insects from even striking, many farmers still must spend drastic amounts of money. There are many ways to aid in prevention yet the most expensive is also the most effective. This expensive solution is the work of chemical treatments. Chemicals such as diazinon or pyrethroid can directly kill the fly on contact. Each chemical method works for a different amount of time and many times needs to be repeated. Therefore, the prevention is also very costly and tedious as well as afterwards when the fly as striked.

Effects on Other Organisms

Reports in northern Europe show the fly will often lay its eggs in most of the sheep's population wool. The process continues when the larvae starts to bury down through the wool. Once hitting the skin's surface, it will start to feed on it. This causes massive amounts of damaged tissue and bacterial infections. Any damaged tissue becomes worthless for the sheep and any bacterial infection can cause great harm or discomfort for the sheep. As
mentioned above under effects for humans in the economic field, 1 million sheep each year are effected. Since the Common Green Bottle Fly is not
external image 912787498_361f3624af.jpg
host specific, this may happen to other organisms as well, though none as common as to the sheep species. This effect on other organisms is definietly a negative one for it could eventually result in death.

Besides harming other organisms, the Common Green Bottle Fly is food for others. Completely its nesscary part in the food chain, this fly's predators include many spiders.
Blowflies are easy to catch in spider's webs espically when they are cast around flowers like this one.


Visit the Common Green Bottle Fly Glog here:

Resource Links