blowfly

blowfly, name for flies of the family Calliphoridae. Blowflies are about the same size as, and resemble, the housefly; because they are usually metallic blue or green they are also called bluebottle or greenbottle flies. Blowflies are commonly found around dead animals and garbage dumps, and lay their eggs on material that serves as food for the larvae, e.g., decaying flesh and other organic matter. Blowflies can transport hundreds of types of bacteria and are often carriers of disease, such as dysentery. The larvae of certain species of blowfly, raised under germ-free conditions and known as surgical, or medicinal, maggots, are used to consume dead and dying tissue and thus promote healing.

The screwworm fly, once common in the S United States but eradicated there by the early 1980s, lays its eggs in wounds or orifices in wild and domestic animals and sometimes in humans. Its maggots feed on living tissue, potentially causing death and significant livestock losses to agriculture. The fly is controlled through the release of radiation-sterilized males; after mating with them, the females, which mate only once, lay eggs that fail to hatch.

Blowflies are classified in the phylum Arthropoda , class Insecta, order Diptera, family Calliphoridae. See also insect .

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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