Lucilia sericata

Geographic Range

Lucilia sericata, commonly known as green bottle flies or sheep blowflies, are found throughout the northern hemisphere. They are invasive to Australia, Central America, and South America. They are nearly cosmopolitan in distribution. Green bottle flies are found widely throughout the United States and Canada. This species is one of the most common of those in the genus Calliphoridae. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011; Pruna, et al., 2019)


Green bottle flies are commonly found in or around carcasses, feces, and garbage. They live in many different biomes and habitats, including both temperate and tropical biomes. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011)

Physical Description

Adult green bottle flies are 8-10 mm in length. They are metallic green or copper-green in color. Members of this species have hairy backs, yellow mouthparts, and red-brown eyes. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011)

Eggs of green bottle flies are white or yellow in color, long, and are pointed on one end. Larvae are 12-18 mm in length. They are white or yellow in color, cone-shaped, and smooth in appearance. Pupae are 9-10 mm in length. They start out as white in coloring and darken to light brown, reddish-brown, or black color. Pupal green bottle flies have a hard shell. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011)

  • Range length
    8 to 10 mm
    0.31 to 0.39 in


Females lay 200 eggs in a cluster on a chosen host. The eggs hatch 18-21 hours after they are laid. Larvae mature for 3-4 days and undergo three instars. The food source and the humidity of the environment impact the time spent as larvae. Once they reach the third instar, larvae leave their hosts and burrow into the soil to pupate. They undergo complete metamorphosis and pupate for 7-10 days before emerging as adults. Generations that occur during the cooler parts of the year may undergo diapause. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011)


Multiple generations of green bottle flies occur per year. There may be 3-4 generations per year before the last undergo diapause. Green bottle flies prefer to lay eggs during cool nights, unlike other Calliphoridae. Adults emerge after pupation and then mate. They then oviposit. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011; Heinrich, 2013)

Green bottle flies do not exhibit parental involvement.

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement


The first adults appear from April to May. They disappear around the end of October. Larvae remain where they were hatched on hot, dry days. They leave their shelters on rainy nights. The larvae may leave in random directions or may leave all at once in a straight line. They have been observed moving in a straight line towards the rising sun. (Heinrich, 2013)

Communication and Perception

Not much is known about the communication and perception of pure green sweat bees. They may use visual, chemical, and tactical perception. Chemical and tactical communication is likely.

Food Habits

  • Other Foods
  • dung

Ecosystem Roles

Green bottle flies consume carrion and contribute to biodegradation. (Heinrich, 2013)

Species Used as Host
  • livestock animals, such as sheep

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Green bottle flies are important for fields of forensic, medical, and veterinary science. In medical science, green bottle flies larvae are used for treatment-resistant infections. In forensic science, green bottle flies may be used to determine the time of death of discovered bodies. This is done by analyzing the development of the larvae. (Anderson and Kaufman, 2011; Pruna, et al., 2019)

  • Positive Impacts
  • research and education

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Green bottle flies may lay eggs in and infest livestock like sheep. These infestations can be lethal and damaging to populations of livestock. (Pruna, et al., 2019)

Conservation Status


Deena Hauze (author), Animal Diversity Web Staff.



Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

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living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

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living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

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living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

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living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

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uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


helps break down and decompose dead plants and/or animals


an animal that mainly eats meat


flesh of dead animals.

causes or carries domestic animal disease

either directly causes, or indirectly transmits, a disease to a domestic animal


Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by stands of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by periodic fire. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo.


an animal that mainly eats the dung of other animals


having a worldwide distribution. Found on all continents (except maybe Antarctica) and in all biogeographic provinces; or in all the major oceans (Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.


a period of time when growth or development is suspended in insects and other invertebrates, it can usually only be ended the appropriate environmental stimulus.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

external fertilization

fertilization takes place outside the female's body


union of egg and spermatozoan


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


a distribution that more or less circles the Arctic, so occurring in both the Nearctic and Palearctic biogeographic regions.

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Found in northern North America and northern Europe or Asia.


referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

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reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


an animal that mainly eats dead animals

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate


Anderson, M., P. Kaufman. 2011. "Common Name: Common Green Bottle Fly, Sheep Blow Fly" (On-line). Featured Creatures Entomology & Nematology. Accessed July 24, 2020 at

Cruickshank, I., R. Wall. 2002. Population Dynamics of the Sheep Blowfly Lucilia sericata: Seasonal Patterns and Implications for Control. Journal of Applied Ecology, 39(2): 493-501. Accessed July 24, 2020 at

Heinrich, B. 2013. Coordinated Mass Movements of Blow Fly Larvae (Diptera: Calliphoridae). Northeastern Naturalist, 20(4): 23-27. Accessed July 24, 2020 at

Pruna, W., P. Guarderas, D. Donoso, Á. Barragán. 2019. Life cycle of Lucilia sericata (Meigen 1826) collected from Andean mountains. Neotropical Biodiversity, 5(1): 3-9. Accessed July 24, 2020 at