Sarcophagidae Recording Scheme

Sarcophaga vagans (m). Image by Nigel Jones 2019

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




Tanyptera Project webinar on Flesh Flies. A webinar introducing British flesh flies and the basics for their identification will be held on Fri, 20 November 2020 at 14:00 – 15:15 CET on Zoom. Click here for more details on how to register and attend. The event is part of the Tanyptera Project's webinar series.
Sarcophaga bulgarica new to Britain now published. This year's discovery of this new species for Britain was published on 2nd October 2020 in the Dipterists Digest. A PDF of the article can be downloaded from Research Gate. The article includes a key couplet for distinguishing males of S. bulgarica from males of S. haemorrhoa (click here for a summary of male differences) plus diagnostic characters for females, although boundaries are not clear-cut for all of the latter.
Key to Adult Flesh Flies of the British Isles. The latest version of the key is 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.

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.