Flies


Musca spp.

Life is not fair to flies.

Houseflies are effective decomposers of dead and actively dying and/or rotting things.

Or at least their larvae are.

The thing is, humans’ contempt for houseflies is so deep we’ve reserved a special name for their larvae — maggots. Sometimes army drill sergeants will call new recruits maggots because maggots are, well, unlovable.

In reality, though, “maggots” are really cute and wiggly little larvae. And they are actually quite shy. And they do pretty much all the heavy lifting of decomposition with their feeding.

And when they emerge as adults, they grow wings just like faeries — but because we are so contemptuous of them, we don’t think of wingless maggots as being the young version like pretty butterflies (caterpillars) or mystical dragonflies (dragonfly larvae).

Maggots are our ecosystem’s recyclers of actively rotting dead and/or dying things. Their superpower lies in being able to do the unpleasant jobs the rest of us can’t do, like eat rotting flesh that would make the rest of us sick.

So, I would say, after we get over the initial shock of reacting to their grossness, I say we take a deep breath and allow ourselves to respect them. Or even just be a little thankful. (Remembering of course, that the adults are dirty creatures that you don’t want around your food because they can and do spread harmful bacteria.)

But all in all, they are hard workers and are good at what they do. And they serve humbly and reliably as part of a healthy and vibrant biotic community. And if you’re an insect, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Secret: Flies are also effective pollinators.