Flies of the Sahyadris

Sarcophagidae. That’s what this family of striped flies are called. This one was almost a centimeter long. I came across it on a walk in the Sahyadris last week. Otherwise known as flesh flies, they can either lay eggs or maggots on decaying flesh. I’ve seen them across the south Asian region: from the valleys of Bhutan to the southern end of the Western ghats, and from the Sahyadris to eastern Tripura; wherever there’s a humid wilderness, or uncleared garbage. But if you want to approach it for a photo, make sure that there’s no decaying matter nearby. The maggots of some species are known to cause myiasis, maggot infections, in humans. I came across a checklist dating from 2002 of subcontinental flesh flies which could serve as the basis for a field guide, if you are interested. I have a collection of photos taken over the last decade. Perhaps on a hot day, when I’m stuck in the house, I can try to identify them. I’m assured though that flies are as difficult to identify as moths, one can seldom identify them by appearance alone.

Another bothersome family of flies are these shiny specimens: blue, green, or bronze. I’ve seen these Calliphoridae across South Asia too. I saw this one, bigger than a centimeter, in the Sahyadris las week. Although a checklist specific to India was available since 2004, I’ve not felt an urgent need to be able to identify them down to species level (again, something I may leave for a hot summer afternoon). A few species of these can also cause myiasis in humans, and are best approached carefully. However, there are attempts to raise them in clean laboratory conditions and use their maggots to clean dead tissue in human patients. That’s a treatment that I may not be an early adopter of.