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Maggot Facts: Where They Come From and Getting Rid of Them

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What Is a Maggot?

A maggot is the larvae of a fly.

In other words, a fly lays eggs which turn into larvae (maggots), which become flies, which lay more eggs, and so on....

(Full disclosure: I did not always know this. At the risk of sounding like a moron, I’ll admit that I thought they just sort of appeared. Not sure where that logic came from.) After doing some thorough research, I thought I’d compile the basics and share.

Where Do Maggots Come From?

The fly lays eggs, which turn into maggots. "Maggot" is another word for larva. After a pupal stage, maggots turn into flies. Sometimes, it may seem like the maggots appear from nowhere, but it's just that you didn't notice the fly or its eggs. The fly lays hundreds of eggs at a time! They will begin to hatch within a day.

A Fly's Life Cycle

  1. A female lives about a month, during which time she lays from 500 to 2,000 eggs in batches of about 75 to 150 at a time.
  2. A day after the eggs are laid, the maggots will appear.
  3. We usually see them in this first stage while they are still 3-9 mm long and whitish in color (however, they can grow to be 20 mm. Ew!).
  4. Maggots feed for 3 to 5 days. There are larval and pupal stages, and it takes approximately 14 to 36 days for the eggs to morph into flies.

The fly will lay its eggs anywhere it feels like the maggots will be safe and well-fed. This is why it’s so common to see them in old or rotting food. The maggots need to eat non-stop so the fly will always lay the eggs where there is food.

What Do Maggots Like to Eat?

Maggots like meat: Leftovers, discards, pet food, dead animals, any old meat will do. They eat to fuel their growth until they pupate.

Source

How to Prevent Flies (and Maggots)

  • Always clean up any food and don't leave any sitting out. Store food in sealed containers. Tie your garbage bags tightly and remove garbage from your house frequently.
  • Flies will lay their eggs in your pet’s food as well, so make sure you change their food fully and don’t just top it up. Keep the dish covered when not in use.
  • Clean out garbage cans thoroughly. Using bleach is probably your best bet. Make sure their lids are always sealed tight.
  • If you compost, be sure to keep it completely sealed.
  • If you have a dog, be sure to keep your yard free of dog poop.
  • Seal any holes in your screens to help keep them out. They always find a way to sneak in though, don’t they?

How to Get Rid of Maggots (and Flies)

This can depend on your personal preference, as you can use chemical products or do it naturally.

  • Remove all food sources, and the flies will lay their eggs elsewhere.
  • Pour boiling water over maggots to kill them instantly. If you want, you can add a cup of bleach and 1 1/2 cups of hydrogen peroxide to a gallon of boiling water.
  • Dish soap works great as an insect repellant and/or insecticide. Most dish soaps contain a little borax, which is the active ingredient.
  • Natural fly repellants include vodka, aromatic herbs like lavender, basil, and bay leaf, lemongrass oil, cloves, witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, and camphor or citronella smoke.
  • You can make a trap to catch the flies, hopefully before they lay eggs. Fill the bottom of a container with a couple inches of water, then add some smelly bait and a couple drops of liquid dish soap.
  • There are certain plants you can plant around your home like marigold, chrysanthemum, lavender, and tansy, which will help keep flies away. (Don't forget the venus flytrap, a carnivorous plant that loves to eat flies, which is a spectacular—if not exactly effective—way to do it!)
  • Use an electronic fly traps that plug into your outlets or a fly zapper. These emit a white UV light that attracts flying insects, then zaps them with electricity. Be careful to use these indoors, and only when needed, because they kill all kinds of flying insects, even ones that we really need.
  • If you choose to get rid of them chemically, use a product which contains permethrin, a chemical that is used as an insecticide. For example Raid, which we’re all probably familiar with, is a popular insecticide that is used in households.
  • Use a fly gun or a good ol’ fly swatter.

  • Get some fly paper, or make your own. (See video below.)

Interesting Maggot Facts

Maggots can be used for many things. Even though you might think they're gross, there are many ways we benefit from their existence.

  • They make great bait for fishing.
  • Live ones can be used for medical purposes like as cleaning wounds of dead tissue, especially for wounds that are having trouble healing.
  • They are very helpful to forensic scientists who use them to calculate an approximate time of death.

Stay Maggot-Free!

To sum it up: If you can manage to not leave any food out, including your garbage, compost, and your pet's food and waste, you’ll likely remain maggot-free.

About Maggots (from National Geographic)

From the Comments

Jordan from Norman, OK left a very helpful comment in the comment section. Here it is in full:

"I did my undergraduate research on decay and maggot development. You summed it up quite nicely! I'm impressed. Here are a few more tidbits on necrophagous flies:

There is only one major family of flies that will oviposit on decaying matter: Calliphoridae. Not all flies are attracted to detritus, but if the fly is shiny and blue or green, chances are it's feeding on and laying its eggs in your garbage. Maggots can only survive on wet substrate, so if you are compulsively changing your dry bin out of fear of maggot infestation, know that they cannot live on a dried chicken bone (or dried anything else)!

Development changes drastically with temperature. It may take anywhere from two hours to three days for them to hatch from eggs; likewise, it may take six hours to five months for them to develop into adults. The life cycle is a six stage process: egg, first instar, second instar, third instar, pupa, and adult.

While these flies are major pests within the home, they are one of the only organisms that rids the world of carcasses. When they are in their natural habitats, they are very helpful, indeed!"

Feel free to leave information of your own in the comments section!

Comments 52 comments

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

I live in a new sub-division surrounded by farms and live-stocks. We get flies all the time. Sometimes on garbage day, there's something like a million of those parasite wiggling around in the outside garbage disposals.

Like you said spraying the garbage before dumping them and washing with bleach thereafter really helps.

Great hub. Voted Up and Useful.


Kalux profile image

Kalux 4 years ago from Canada Author

Thank you very much, ComfortB. I would not be looking forward to garbage day if I were you *shivers* :)


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

Very useful, Kalux. I have dog shampoo and will definitely try this out. Hygiene, of course, is the most important, though no matter how clean we can be these critters always make their appearance! Sharing this informative article.


Kalux profile image

Kalux 4 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks, midget!


DDE profile image

DDE 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Interesting Hub of the where maggots come from a learning experience


Kalux profile image

Kalux 4 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks, DDE. After I wrote this hub I haven't been able to look at a fly without thinking of those gross little things hehe.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

I have seen maggots on my garbage bag twice in my life. I hated them crawling all over the place. I used a chemical picked from a store to kill them. But you are absolutely correct. I should have been careful with garbage storage and removal.

Thank you for writing a very informative hub.


loveofnight profile image

loveofnight 4 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

An interesting hub, I too always thought that maggots just appeared. It always seemed as if they appeared with or without flies.Thanks for the info.


Kalux profile image

Kalux 4 years ago from Canada Author

That's what I always thought too, loveofnight! :)


Tamigl profile image

Tamigl 4 years ago from Upper Marlboro. MD

The basil works! I tried it a few months ago.


Kalux profile image

Kalux 4 years ago from Canada Author

Awesome, thanks Tamigl!


Jordan Chapman profile image

Jordan Chapman 3 years ago from Norman, Oklahoma

I did my undergraduate research on decay and maggot development. You summed it up quite nicely! I'm impressed. Here are a few more tidbits on necrophagous flies:

There is only one major family of flies that will oviposit on decaying matter: Calliphoridae. Not all flies are attracted to detritus, but if the fly is shiny and blue or green, chances are it's feeding on and laying its eggs in your garbage. Maggots can only survive on wet substrate, so if you are compulsively changing your dry bin out of fear of maggot infestation, know that they cannot live on a dried chicken bone (or dried anything else)!

Development changes drastically with temperature. It may take anywhere from two hours to three days for them to hatch from eggs; likewise, it may take six hours to five months for them to develop into adults. The life cycle is a six stage process: egg, first instar, second instar, third instar, pupa, and adult.

While these flies are major pests within the home, they are one of the only organisms that rids the world of carcasses. When they are in their natural habitats, they are very helpful, indeed!

Cheers.


Kalux profile image

Kalux 3 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks for your informative addition here, Jordan! I agree that they are helpful in their natural habitats...away from me lol.


David Trujillo profile image

David Trujillo 3 years ago from Medellin, Colombia

I thought maggots were like zombies rising from dead flesh. They certainly look like it, jumping from the garbage bin, crawling slowly around the floor until girlfriend spots them, drowns them with bleach and blames boyfriend.

Next day, some maggot zombies somehow survive the massacre and boyfriend has to squish them… then clean house all over again!!

Off course boyfriend was the one that forgot to take the garbage out in the first place :(


Insane Mundane profile image

Insane Mundane 3 years ago from Earth

No, you had it right the first time: Maggots just sort of appeared; ha!

Which came first, the fly or the maggot? If it is the fly, then there had to be a maggot to begin with and if it was a maggot, then the maggot truly spawned from nothingness on the beginning... Yeah, sort of like asking about the chicken vs. the egg thingy... LOL!


Kalux profile image

Kalux 3 years ago from Canada Author

ha ha ha both David and Insane, you made me giggle pretty good you two.

:)

Thanks so much.


mochas groove 2 years ago

Omg..... I love you for this. I about died when I saw my trashcan infested with those things from hell.... Completely grossed out... but yeah I am guilty of allowing my garbage to sit over a week in a hot garage. Not only is the smell appalling, those dag on creepy crawlies are making it so I can't even go into my garage to dump new trash. Yeah I will never wait that long again. Come on Wednesday!!!!!!!!! Please.....


martha 19 months ago

Take garbage out continuously


Traci 17 months ago

I dont see them around food. I seen them around my dishes and in my sink but we always clear the sink out when were done washing the dishes. Weve also noticed alot of nats could that have something to do with it?


Mrs. Love 14 months ago

I'm having an issue with maggots I thought maybe they were coming from the drain in basement or from the wall where water often leaks from when it's rains! Is this possible


Carol 14 months ago

I had this problem 2 years ago fought like crazy to get rid of them cleaning the can bleaching and them spraying raid fly spray seemed to work well here it and the darn things are back we always bag ou garbage and take it out all the time the garbage company even gave us a new can guess what today it was covered My question to they make hole in the ground and then get in and do their ugly thing


Frankie Ay 13 months ago

What still puzzles me is WHERE DO THEY COME FROM. I mean, our pet hamster died and the kids thought that if you put it in a jar and sealed it, it wouldn't decay. I told them that was highly unlikely, but as a learning experience I let them encase it and bury it. A week later one of them dug it up and much to his horror, the jar was filled with maggots -- the hamster pretty much eaten up. He wanted to know (and I couldn't explain to him) how did the maggots get into the sealed jar?

If it is as simple as that they are fly eggs that have hatched and developed, how did the fly get into the jar to lay the eggs on that dead hampster which then turned into larvae to eat the hamster? Seems like larvae are already in any animal, fish or foul's flesh already BEFORE death and only upon death to they hatch. Is this at all possible? So again I ask, where do maggots come from when a living thing dies? Do they spontanious hatch from decaying meat? Tis a mystery.


sreenivasulu 9 months ago

I didn't know how to get rid of them and i know some information about magotts they spread some microble diseases.Thank you very much for information.


nazly 7 months ago

Yesterday I saw a maggot on my kitchen top. I stressed cos I could not find the source. This morning at the breakfast table, there was one on the table... Just then my husband looked up and OMW ... in the light fitting were quite a few of them, comiing down as we were watching.... When we took off the cover, the culprits, ....2 very large flies flew out ...... Thank goodness we found the source!


Frankie Ay 7 months ago

Yes, I get that flies lay eggs and they hatch into the worms, but that doesn't at all explain how they appear when there are no eggs laid at all. And if you will excuse the thought, I am sure that not every corps, human or otherwise, dies with fly eggs on them. Humans are sealed in a coffin and behold, maggots are in there; my kids' hamster sealed in a jar...maggots are in there. THAT's the question -- when there are no apparent fly eggs, there still ALWAYS seem to be maggots. There has got to be a scientific answer to that.


ewan turner 7 months ago

i always get maggots but there no where near any food. there always near my back door and under my kitchen window. i do have some dead millipedes in my sliding back door tracks. but no where near food.


Mandy 6 months ago

I'm sure everyone has had a fly land on them and you swat it away, maybe they lay the eggs within your skin but due to your immune system fighting it they don't hatch til you die


bobby cheryl 5 months ago

these maggots are in my house!! i dont know where they are coming from. They are under my rugs, in the bathroom and in the kitchen. but... not in the pantry or fridge? WHAT!?!?!?!?!?!?!


bobby cheryl 5 months ago

It is really weird because we get our house professionally cleaned every week, and we are neat and tidy people. How could we not see it happening?


Pen 5 months ago

I have NEVER had them UNTIL this AM. I swear to God they were not there yesterday!!


Love 5 months ago

I woke up this morning and there they were on the Kitchen Floor . I hate that . I used bay leaves in the trash can and that stopped them. I don't know where they came from. I will try salt to kill them next time. I did see a big green fly in the house on Monday. today is Wednesday when I say the maggots. Because the Raid did not work. I poured vinegar and it did not work. Thanks for the information


Hi 4 months ago

In the last 2 days I had at least 2 dozen flies in my home. Killed them, more came. Could not figure out where they were from. Killed 1 fly that had something coming out of it, from the back. GROSS. Finally found a rolled up towel I had used to sit on when I went outside that I didn't know my cat threw up on. Picking up the towel, there were tons of lies and these tan-brownish oblong things. Were those going to hatch into maggots? Were all the flies I killed already maggots I did not see? OMG, I feel ill!! One just few by me now. I have been ill and haven't taken garbage out in 2 days - sick or not - going now!

CAN people have flies, maybe not many, ad never know they had maggots?


Bob 4 months ago

Maggots are not "parasites" typically in temperate climates, but are very efficient recyclers of dead protein. So as with everything, nature does a good job of cleaning up!


Mary 8/8 today 4 months ago

Found a whole bunch of these maggots all over my carpet in living room from the front to door to the end of hallway..Maintanence man came and sprayed all of them..then we swept them up..I've seen a couple of flies off and on the last couple of nites (I have a fly strips up which usually helps) but this is the first time in my life I've ever see anything like this and I'm 65 yrs old..I can't stand bugs inside my house..so now I'm really watching for them


robin brokaw 4 months ago

I have a out side dog she has maggots on her back we just noice some cuts on her how can we help her we are taking her to a vet


Taiha 3 months ago

If the maggots are layed on the ground ants will start to find them and take them to there any hill for food .the other day I saw this happning it was I front of my house under the stone lizard we have. some were under every single rock. So I toke a video and look at it very close so ants are an enemy to maggots


Isabella 3 months ago

Canfresh Gdorless Garbage Solution will solve all the garbage composing problems. Canfresh controls humidity and temperature inside the green bin and we promise no maggots, no flies. If you are interested in Canfresh, please email: allcanfresh001@gmail.com for more information. Here is our website: https://allcanfresh.com/


Hazel 3 months ago

Good information. The gist of what you say is clear. Keep your bin dry. Make sure no food is just put in. Contain your rubbish in plastic bags. When bins are empty, wash out thoroughly with boiling water containing bleach. Turn upside down to dry completely. Elsewhere I read that you can oil the bin with a little oil contains some vinegar. Kill any flies you see especially blue or green ones. Good luck. You will succeed if you persevere.


Lawofone profile image

Lawofone 3 months ago

Around 12 AM last night my neighbour message me asked me to go outside. To my horror both of our gardens were covered with maggots I mean they're were billions of then. me and my neighbour look after our gardens,rubbish is alwsys IN the bin, never bits hanging out, bins are kept out of the way at the bottom of the garden, we regularly wash the patio etc,we have young children Who like to play out... The neighbour on the otherside of me has a Mountain of rotting rubbish, piles of dog poo ( A stafie n a dogue-de-Bordeaux can make some big piles) how long all that poo has actually been there Is the unknown it's not regularly picked up and if it ever is its just thrown over the fence,behind our houses is A looking lpng grass field.Over the years we have had problems, the smell of the dogs shit and piss, rotting rubbish on A hot summers day is not nice.But when the cat sizerats came of course it became serious. Anyway My neighbour with a rubbish seem to think all these maggots appeared last night because my cat had recently had fleas,but I caught and dealt with that quickly I'd say a week At the most my cat probably have fleas. In my Opinion there is no way The fleas from my cat caused that maggot apocalypse. I could be wrong,? Last night we were outside and my neighbour with a rubbish said she had no maggots what's soever, so why was it me and the other neighbour has the apocalypse in our garden? I'm thinking because it was dark she couldn't see them.? I spent 3 1/2 hours use in every chemical under my sink scrubbing my patio boiling hot water you name if I did it. Right now I can't see any, maybe the odd dead one stuck in between the patio slabs. My question is what caused this amount of maggots? the rubbish n shit or The fleas?? It's crazy 9pm last night it was dry no maggots, there was a downpour of rain, 12am my neighbour messages... The maggot apocalypse had began...


annie 3 months ago

thats a good question.. would love to see the answer


Fer 3 months ago

Awesome


jessjav 3 months ago

I found maggots under a towel the day after i mopped the floor w Clorox. Used a small towel to dry floor while i walked on it.

never ever have had this before, i lifted the towel to straighten it the next morning and there were about 8 of them wiggling around!

there was a fly about a week earlier that i stopped in the garbage with the lid. Only fly inside house


fifer 3 months ago

spray inside your bins with brake cleaner, THEY DO NOT LIKE IT ON THEM!


Annabeth 3 months ago

Great article, but could you please state the author?I could use this for our research paper but I would need the name of the author thank you.


tauati 2 months ago

I love this article


ew 2 months ago

grose bro


mc john jbv 2 months ago

nice educative article


J L Holmes 2 months ago

My daughter had a power outage at her condo during a period when there was no one there. A month or so later it was discovered that her 2-year-old fridge had failed with meat in the freezer. Even though Th

E refrigerator had not been opened all that time (about 6 weeks), the freezer was filled with maggots. Where did they come from? I think there are maggot eggs in raw meat???


Bob F. 7 weeks ago

We put our food scraps in plastic bags, then place the bag in the freezer. Come trash day we put the bag in the trash can. We have never had a problem with maggots sense we have been doing this. We also use a plastic jar with a lid for small scraps from the sink strainer an freeze it as well.


Sheela Chandraghatgi 9 days ago

I'm an lndian living in Mumbai. For last few years l've been making vermicompost without any trouble. Today l noticed some maggots in the compost. I'm worried. Can you help Me? How should l get rid of them without disturbing the earthworms? Waiting for your reply. Thanks for your article.


Lim 8 days ago

Ewwww disgusting, disgusting. Came across this article because there are maggots climbing up the walls in the office toilet. EW. Full disclosure too - I too thought they appear out of nowhere =.= Thanks for the article. Will be taking greater care of things at home now!


Hi 34 hours ago

I left a piece of porkchop bone in my room and went camping for three days, came back home and that bone was cover with magot. The fly's eggs developed a lot faster than you think. Luckily it was inside a plate and not on my floor. I poured mr. clean and they move suddenly stronger and faster like became mutants with chemical.

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