The Flesh Fly: Sarcophaga crassipalpis

HabitatFigure 1. Fecal matter. Free to share from

            Sarcophaga crassipalpis are “true flies” from the order Diptera.  They have an easily found habitat that  is not very specialized. Generally they reside in areas of decaying organic matter, near flowers or fallen fruit or fecal matter.  Because the Sarcophaga crassipalpis have easily obtained food sources, they are found in many places around the world; usually around waste (Bănziger 2004).  Wherever there is decaying matter, these flies will be found.  The S. crassipalpis do not only use decaying matter as a food source, but they also use it as a place for reproduction.  They lay larvae on feces, cadavers (including necrotic tissue of live animals and humans), or both (Pape 2013), but generally just one or the other.Earth worm

            Along with Sarcophaga crassipalpis, in this habitat there are many other flies of the Sarcophaga genus as well as other species.  In the same habitat as S. crassipalpis are molds, worms, bacteria and fungi.  They all work to break down dead or decaying matter as decomposers.

            Generally, the Sarcophaga crassipalpis is found in warmer temperatures, but they have a rapid cold-hardening (RCH) response that protects them from non-freezing cold-shock injury (Yi 2011).  This enables them to survive a random cold spurt and still be able to produce offspring without being affected.  Also when tested, apoptosis, the death of cells that occurs as a normal part of an organism’s growth or development, was found to be induced by cold shock, but RCH suppressed it  (Yi 2011).  However, the rate at which cells died was still relatively high compared to the control (Yi 2011).

            Based on an experiment, the male S. crassipalpis require less protein than the famale S. crassipalpis.  Depending on the availability of food, the flies will travel elsewhere.  The main goal of their habitat is to supply enough protein for them to be able to reproduce successfully because they do not re-allocate resources from capital storage pools towards reproduction (Wessels et al. 2011).

            S. crassipalpis has a number of other special adaptations: continue reading to discover more about flesh fly Form and Function. Or click here to return to the home page.