Also spelled blow-flies, the Calliphoridae family includes carrion flies, cluster flies, greenbottle and bluebottle flies, in the Diptera order of insects. Consisting of 1,100 known species, slightly larger than true houseflies, blow flies are often shiny with metallic-like blue, green, orange or black bodies. Noisy in flight, blow flies also have bristle-like hairs that differentiate members of the Calliphoridae family.
The name comes from an Old English term describing bloated decaying meat.
From the Old English term “fly blown” meat, used to describe the bloated condition of decaying animal carcasses infested with blow fly larvae or maggots, blow flies can be found all over the world, with eighty species in the US. Shakespeare makes references to blow flies in at least three of his plays, including The Tempest, Love’s Labour’s Lost and Anthony and Cleopatra. Ranging in length from .28 to .63 inches, preferring temperate to tropical areas, blow flies are common pests in the southern parts of the US.
Blow flies hold answers in crime scenes.
With the ability to smell dead animal matter as far as a mile away, blow flies are usually the first insects to come into contact with carrion. As blow fly females are on a mission to deposit eggs as soon as possible, upon reaching dead bodies, blow flies can play an important part in forensics. Because traditional time of death estimations are unreliable after 72 hours, crime scene investigators turn to forensic entomologists to determine approximate times of death through analyzing blow fly and other carrion feeding insect larvae development.