The Flesh Fly: Sarcophaga crassipalpis


Domain: Eukarya

            Sarcophaga crassipalpis belong to the domain Eukarya (Pape 2013).  They are multicellular macroscopic organisms that we as Homo sapiens interact with frequently.  Their cells are more complex than those of Archae and Bacteria, containing organelles that are not found in the other domains.

Kingdom: Animalia

            S. crassipalpis belong to Animalia because they are multicellular and eukaryotic. They have cells, tissues, organs and systems as well as a type of skeletal support.  Lastly, they reproduce sexually (Pape 2013).Figure 1. Deer tick, Ixodes scapularis. Image free to share from

Phylogenetic treePhylum: Arthropoda

            S. crassipalpis belongs to Arthropoda because they are invertebrates, and they have an exoskeleton. Their exoskeleton is also made of chitin and they have segmented bodies (Bnziger 2004).  Having six jointed legs, bilateral symmetry, and specialized appendages also classifies them as part of the Arthropod phylum (Pape 2013). The deer tick is also a member of the phylum Arthropoda.

Class: Insecta

            Having three main body regions (head, thorax, and abdomen) classifies Sarcophaga crassipalpis as Insecta.  So does having one pair of antennae and three pairs of segmented legs on each side of their body (B„nziger 2004).  Most, but not all, organisms of Insecta have one or two pairs of wings. S. crassipalpis does have wings. Another example of a species belonging to the class Insecta is Chloealtis conspersa, or the sprinkled grasshopper.

Order: DipteraPhylogenetic tree

            Sarcophaga crassipalpis are part of the order Diptera, along with horseflies, because they are “true flies" (Pape 2013). As adults they have only one pair of functional wings and one pair of reduced hind wings.  Some other Diptera species lose their wings altogether; however, S. crasipalpis does have wings (Pape 2013).  Their mouths are “suctorial” and they have large fleshy pads with drainage canals for efficient liquid uptake (Pape 2013). An entire Diptera database can be found at

Family: Sarcophagidae

            S. crasipalpis belong to Sarcophagidae.  Sarcophagidae are generally black with gray thoracic stripes, and there are three black racing stripes on the gray background (Bnziger 2004). 

Figure 2. Sarcophaga species. Image free to use from Sarcophaga

            Sarcophaga crasipalpis are scavengers of small carrion such as: dead insects, snails, or smaller vertebrates; some species feed on larger vertebrate carcasses (Bnziger 2004). 


Species: Sarcophaga crasipalpis

            Sarcophaga crasipalpis are scavengers of small decaying organisms.  They have black racing stripes on their bodies with wings and their mouths have large fleshy pads with canals for liquid uptake (Pape 2013).  They have three body segments with three legs on each side, and a set of antennae (Pape 2013).  S. crasipalpis are also multicellular bilateral organisms.

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