Sensitive souls refrain! Because the subject of this article is a subject of disgust for many…
Today we are going to talk about blow flies, eggs and maggots…
And anyone who has ever practised bushcraft where the bush cooking knows what I’m talking about!
It does not take long to see swarming around a piece of meat, a freshly caught fish or a (difficult) hunted prey, swarms of flies which gleam in the sun.
Because we are talking about blowflies, these flies with metallic reflections which, in less time than it takes to say, lay their eggs on your midday meal!
Let’s take stock of these Diptera, never welcome:
Flesh flies, protein-loving Diptera
They buzz, fly in clouds as soon as they “smell” a food likely to interest them, come back indefinitely, and end up awakening your lowest instincts of extermination.
They are those green (or blue) flies, more commonly known as meat flies.
Members of the family Calliphoridae, these Diptera can be recognized by the metallic reflections that dot their somewhat hairy bodies. Not to be confused with black-bodied houseflies.
They also have six legs, large red eyes and a pair of pale wings.
And they annoy us because they are our companions.
More simply, they share our table… without being invited!
Why do flies lay their eggs on meat?
Rarely welcome, blue or green flies look for meat, fish, decomposing matter, corpses, and animal waste…not to feed themselves but to lay eggs.
And thus allow their offspring to feed themselves to give birth to a new generation!
As soon as she finds the ideal “spot”, each female fly lays a few hundred clumped, creamy-white eggs of about 1 mm, which, within a day, hatch and give birth to larvae, the famous maggots.
Which in turn, in 5 to 10 days, become mature and leave their cosy (and teeming!) environment for pupation, i.e. the passage from the state of larva to that of nymph and adult.
The adult flies will mate and the female will go back to searching for a carcass, carrion, or decaying matter.
And the cycle begins again…
Note: one can study the corpse of an animal and make a hypothesis of the date of its death, by observing the state of development of the larva.
Is it dangerous to eat meat where a fly has landed?
To this question, I want to give you an answer from Normand!
So I will answer yes and no.
If the fly just lands
A flesh fly can therefore simply land on meat or fish, without having time to lay its eggs. Because you will have chased it away before, with the back of your hand.
However, you don’t know where this same little fly, as innocuous as it is, landed, just before ogling the beautiful piece of meat that is already making you salivate.
However, by definition, a blue or green fly likes to frequent putrefactive matter, faeces or corpses.
So, potentially, the legs and wings carry more than 200 bacteria (cf. 2010 study by food and agricultural science researchers at the University of Florida), sources of transmission of many pathogens responsible for several diseases such as salmonellosis, dysentery, typhoid fever, anthrax, etc.
More certainly, it can be the cause of food poisoning or more or less serious gastrointestinal infections.
And the longer the fly lingers, the greater the risk.
In short, even if the health risk is minimal, it exists, linked to your state of health or the country where you are. So, potentially, meat, where a fly has landed, is dangerous.
By the way, remember, didn’t the hero of Sean Penn’s film “Into the wild” have to give up his caribou meat invaded by flies?
If the fly lays its eggs
Sometimes it is enough to turn your back for half an hour so that the flies have time to lay their eggs, which look like small whitish clumps. What to do? Eat meat or not?
Beyond simple disgust, is it dangerous to eat these eggs?
A priori not because the gastric juices will do their job and destroy these eggs thanks to the digestive enzymes.
However, if you see these eggs, refrain as a precaution from consuming the “infected” piece because the fly has necessarily left some bacteria or viruses there.
Idea: If your meat is spoiled and the larvae are already there…just go fishing.
How do you prevent your meat from being “infected”?
The only solution to prevent flies from using your meat as a nursery is above all not to leave it in the open air.
It is therefore sufficient to close it hermetically in any container.
If you don’t have a solution on hand to store it, the solution of fine-mesh mosquito net or thin gauze works pretty well.
This is also the principle of our grandmother’s pantry: the air passes but not the flies!
How to get rid of blowflies?
So yes, blow flies are very useful.
Indeed, they are scavengers, decomposers, nature’s cleaners in the sense that their larvae feed on corpses and carrion, decomposing organic waste, animal excrement… and this in a few days or weeks.
However, you prefer to get rid of it.
Already, the simple fact of not exposing the meat or leaving organic matter lying around is a solution in itself.
Then, you can always try some grandmother’s tips and tricks (but between us, I can’t guarantee their total effectiveness!):
- Lemon slices studded with cloves
- Certain essential oils that you will soak in a fabric (lemongrass, rose geranium, eucalyptus, true lavender, peppermint)
- Garlic decoction is prepared by boiling a few cloves
- white vinegar sprays