This shiny green bottle fly, a blow fly in the family Calliphoridae, is widely distributed across North America. A frequent visitor to garbage, feces, and carrion, it can mechanically transmit disease, but it is probably more well known for other notable roles it plays in veterinary, medical, and forensic science.
In veterinary science, Lucilia sericata can cause loss of livestock when animals are affected by the larval form of the fly in a condition known as myiasis or fly strike. Animals affected by fly strike can die when fly larva invade living tissue if they are not treated.
In July of 2016, I helped rescue some turkeys someone had dumped near our home. Upon closer examination of the photos I had taken of them, I was able to see a wound one of the turkeys had. The veterinarian who examined the turkey determined there was serious tissue damage due to fly strike and the turkey was euthanized. So, all animals (even birds) are subject to this condition. Good animal husbandry includes regular examination of animals and treating wounds promptly, with appropriate wound care/dressing to protect the animal from fly contact.
In medical science, Green bottle fly larva are known for their role in wound care. In a practice called maggot therapy, larva of Lucilia sericata are placed on an infected wound to clean out the necrotic tissue. Interestingly, as the larvae feed on the dying tissue, they secrete enzymes that are bactericidal, further aiding in healing the wound.
Finally, in forensic science, the timing of the development of this fly has been adapted and well utilized for establishing a time of death, aiding in law enforcement investigations when a body is found.
If you’d like to read more about this shiny little fly, please check out the links below.