Maggot is a generic term referring to the larvae of dipteran flies, such as common houseflies, bluebottles and blowflies. Such flies are characterized by small bodies and small antenna. For this reason, maggots typically look the same regardless of species. Mosquitos and tsetse fly larvae, for example, are not classed as maggots because their larvae have distinct body parts. The maggots you might encounter in or around your home will typically be from a handful of calliphorid, or common fly species.
Housefly (Musca domestica) maggots can be an unwelcome yet not uncommon sight around your home. During the summer months, houseflies will look for suitable materials in which to lay their eggs. These materials included rotting food, fruit and fecal matter. You may encounter housefly maggots in your trash can, in your yard and sometimes in the house. Eggs take approximately 24 hours to hatch. Once they hatch, larvae resemble small grains of rice approximately 1.2 millimeters long; most are typically a pale yellow or cream color. Bluebottles (Calliphora vomitoria) are common in and around homes, too. Their maggots are almost identical to housefly maggots but are slightly longer in length, typically around 18 millimeters.
The maggots of apple flies (Rhagoletis pomonella), also known as railroad flies, are common pests in rural areas. They destroy apple crops. The adult flies into which the maggots grow resemble common houseflies but are slightly smaller. The flies lay their eggs inside apples, providing an instant source of food for the hatching larvae. Once infested, the apples are worthless, as they can’t be sold.
One Weird Maggot
Maggots are typically tubular, with no discernible body parts. One notable exception to the maggot’s physical consistency across species is the rat-tailed maggot. This distinctive maggot is the larvae of the drone fly (Eristalis tenax), distributed widely and found in the United States and Canada. The rat-tailed maggot is aquatic and can be found in toilets, often to the alarm of the person about to use. It has a distinctive tail, which is actually a breathing tube. The tube is typically around 40 millimeters in length, twice as long as the maggot’s body.
Although maggots are very good at repulsing those who encounter them, especially when there are lots of them, they can be of use. Maggots are regularly used for medicinal reasons. The most common type of medicinal maggot is the bluebottle larva. Sterile maggots are inserted into wounds so they can eat away the dead and rotting flesh to aid healing. Maggots are also used as bait in fishing. Their movement and color attract fish to the hook.
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