Sarcophaga vagans male on Angelica flowers. A widespread flesh fly.
Collecting and preparing Sarcophagidae. Our tips for optimal collecting and preparation of Sarcophagidae for identification and recording purposes can be downloaded here. Any feedback and questions are most welcome!
Identification keys. A two part draft key to UK species is available for members to download from the Membership Area. The key is currently being updated to incorporate a few additional species discovered in Britain since 2017. User feedback is most appreciated and contributes to improving the key.
Records. Submit your records in Excel format to ukfleshflies[at]gmail.com or directly on iRecord, if possible with diagnostic photos to facilitate verification.
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What are flesh flies?
The calyptrate family Sarcophagidae (Diptera: Oestroidea) includes 65 species occurring in the British Isles. These include the well known "flesh flies" in the genus Sarcophaga, medium to large sized flies with tessellated patterns on the abdomen. Sarcophaga species are frequently seen basking on sunlit fences, rocks and other structures. They also engage in "summiting" at hilltops and other high points in landscapes.
The family contains three subfamilies:
Miltogramminae: Kleptoparasites of solitary wasps and bees, sometimes known as "Satellite flies" from the habit of some species of closely following host species back to their nests.
Paramacronychiinae: Flies with a diverse biology ranging across necrophagy and predation of snails to parasites or parasitoids of mammals and insects.
Sarcophaginae: The typical "flesh flies" described above. Their biology is very varied and includes predators and parasitoids of various insects, breeding in animal faeces, carcasses, dead snails, decomposing organic matter. The biology of many species is poorly understood or completely unknown.