Being a specialized death and trauma company, we have seen our fair share of fly infestations in some pretty gnarly scenes. When you first walk into a home, the abundance of flies and the foul smell of death is a sure sign that there is biohazard present in the home. I remember in my Odor Elimination class at IICRC, the instructor shared that flies can smell biohazard upwards to a mile to feed and reproduce.
The fly cycle of an infestation feeding off bodily fluids from a death typically follows a well-defined pattern known as the “fly life cycle.” This cycle involves four distinct stages: egg, larva (maggot), pupa, and adult fly. The following is a general outline that we see at our biohazard scenes:
- Egg Stage: The cycle begins when adult flies, attracted by the scent of decaying flesh and bodily fluids, lay their eggs near or on the remains. These eggs are often laid in clusters and can hatch within a few hours to a few days, depending on environmental conditions such as temperature.
- Larva (Maggot) Stage: Once the eggs hatch, they give rise to larvae, commonly known as maggots. Maggots are worm-like creatures that feed voraciously on the decaying flesh and bodily fluids. They undergo several molts during this stage to grow in size. The larval stage can last anywhere from a few days to weeks, depending on factors like temperature, food availability, and fly species.
- Pupa Stage: As the larvae complete their growth, they enter the pupa stage. During this stage, the maggots transform into pupae by enclosing themselves in a protective casing known as the puparium. Inside the puparium, they undergo metamorphosis and develop into adult flies. The duration of the pupal stage varies based on environmental conditions, and it typically lasts several days.
- Adult Fly Stage: Once the metamorphosis is complete, adult flies emerge from the pupae. At this stage, they are sexually mature and capable of reproducing. Adult flies are drawn to the decaying matter and bodily fluids, continuing the cycle by laying eggs near the food source and starting the process anew.
The life cycle of flies can vary depending on factors such as temperature, humidity, and the availability of food. With unattended deaths, the cycle progresses more rapidly, and large fly populations can develop within a short period, exacerbating the infestation and making the scene more complex.
It’s important to understand that fly infestations related to death, are carrying these bodily fluids to different parts of the house, especially left alone for a long period of time. Proper removal of all biohazard and the cleaning of all hard surfaces is vital in making the area sanitized and livable for the tenants or owner.
By knowing the fly life cycle and proper remediation techniques, you are able to make sure you cover all your bases in knowing how to remediate the pesky, dangerous flies.