Blowflies from old ice-fishing bait

2014 April 2

On May 25, 2013, Rosie introduced me to her “pet fly”, and said I could take pictures if I wanted.

It appears to be a Blow Fly, one of the “bluebottle” flies in the family Calliphoridae.

Here is a shot of the metallic-blue abdomen, and one wing clearly enough to see the wing veins.

Rosie had roughed up its wings, and it just stood around in a stunned sort of way for this next picture.

But then, it abruptly flew off, and Rosie was annoyed with me for losing her “pet”. I don’t think she’s forgiven me even now, even though this was many months ago. Just recently, she announced for no real obvious reason, “Remember my pet fly? I’m still mad at you about that”.

So, anyway, where did it come from? One possibility is something that Sandy discovered in the garage a few days later. On May 31, she decided to clean out her bucket of ice-fishing equipment. One of the things in it, was a little packet of formerly-frozen smelt that she’d been using for bait. Well, this is what the smelt had become:

These were blow fly pupae. The smelt were pretty much gone at this point. Blow flies only really like fresh meat, but they really get into it in numbers when they get a chance. The pupae are pretty typical of flies in general, with a hardened reddish-brown shell made from the last skin of the maggot.

They were pretty much done at this point, with only one straggler maggot being left. Of course, fly maggots are about as featureless as an insect larva can get, so one fly maggot looks a great deal like another.

If Sandy had wanted to go fishing again at this point, she still could have. Maggots make good fishing bait, too, particularly for bluegills and other sunfish.

So anyway, this is an illustration of why, even though everything dies eventually, it is really rare to actually find dead animals in the woods – because fresh corpses are delicious!

6 Responses
  1. December 4, 2015

    I am in need of a good photographs of blowfly puparia for an article on blowflies in a Norwegian encyclopedia ( Could I use your photo. Please tell me what I should do to protect your rights. “All rights reserved, photograph by …., by permission ”

  2. December 4, 2015

    You are welcome to use the photograph. The statement “All rights reserved, photograph by Timothy Eisele, used by permission” would be fine.

  3. December 7, 2015

    Dear Tim Eisele,
    many thanks indeeed! The fly that flew away was a female of Calliphora vicina RD to judge from the photographs at the beginning of your post. So I guess the puparia are of that species, as well.
    Best wishes
    Knut Rognes

  4. December 7, 2015

    Dear Tim Eisele,

    I realised that the puparia photo was rather small (41k). The encyclopedia my article is intended for is designed for many platforms (mobile phone, iPad, PC) with very small to very large screens. Would you happen to have larger file for the same photo (1-3 MB)? I would be most grateful.
    Best wishes
    Knut Rognes

  5. December 8, 2015

    Knut Rognes:

    I sent the full-sized photo to the email address on your web page, along with a few other similar photos that I had.

  6. December 9, 2015

    Many thanks indeed. The photographs are outstanding.
    Best wishes
    Knut Rognes

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