Sarcophagidae Recording Scheme

Sarcophaga vagans (m). Image by Nigel Jones 2019

Sarcophaga vagans male on Angelica flowers. A widespread flesh fly.




Key to Adult Flesh Flies of the British Isles. A brand new updated version of the key is now available for download from OSF Preprints (Version 2, 9 July 2020).
2020 identification workshops. We had planned two workshops for the autumn. One at Preston Montford Field Centre for the Biolinks Project and one at Liverpool World Museum for the Tanyptera Project. These are now unlikely to go ahead, given the likelihood that the Covid 19 threat will very much still be with us. We are on standby to go ahead with workshops as soon as it is safe to do so.
Sarcophaga (Heteronychia) bulgarica new to Britain. Stephen Plummer and Laurence Clemons have discovered specimens of Sarcophaga bulgarica from Bedfordshire and Kent. Click here for notes and images helping to distinguish S. bulgarica from the similar S. haemorrhoa. The draft key to UK species will be updated in due course. Meanwhile, do check specimens of S. haemorrhoa for the much less common S. bulgarica.


Scheme information

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] or directly on iRecord, if possible with diagnostic photos to facilitate verification.

Contacts. For any queries, please contact us by email or via our contact forms:

Social media. Join the conversation in our Facebook Group and on Twitter!


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.

Miltogramma punctata
Miltogramma punctata – a "satellite fly".

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.