Sarcophagidae Recording Scheme

Sarcophaga vagans (m). Image by Nigel Jones 2019

Sarcophaga vagans male on Angelica flowers. A widespread flesh fly.


  • Taxonomic Group (English): Flesh flies
  • Taxonomic Group (Scientific): Diptera: Sarcophagidae
  • Scheme Organisers: Daniel Whitmore and Nigel Jones



2020 presentations on YouTube. The two recording scheme presentations held in November 2020 are now available on YouTube: the Flesh Flies Webinar (organised by the Tanyptera Project) and the First Insights from the Sarcophagidae Recording Scheme talk (part of Dipterists Day 2020).
Identification workshops postponed. We had planned two workshops for the autumn of 2020: one at Preston Montford Field Centre for the Biolinks Project and one at Liverpool World Museum for the Tanyptera Project. These were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and discussions are being held for rescheduling them as and when conditions allow.
Sarcophaga bulgarica new to Britain now published. Last year's discovery of this new species for Britain was published on 2nd October 2020 in the Dipterists Digest. A PDF of the article can be downloaded from Research Gate. The article includes a key couplet for distinguishing males of S. bulgarica from males of S. haemorrhoa (click here for a summary of male differences) plus diagnostic characters for females, although boundaries are not clear-cut for all of the latter.
Key to Adult Flesh Flies of the British Isles. The latest version of the key is available for download from OSF Preprints (Version 2, 9 July 2020).

Scheme information

Collecting and preparing Sarcophagidae. Our tips for optimal collecting and preparation of Sarcophagidae for identification and recording purposes can be downloaded here. Any feedback and questions are most welcome!

Identification keys. See the link in the News section, above, for the latest version of the key to adult Sarcophagidae. User feedback is most appreciated and contributes to improving the key.

Records. Submit your records in Excel format to ukfleshflies[at] or directly on iRecord, if possible with diagnostic photos to facilitate verification.

Contacts. For any queries, please contact us by email or via our contact forms:

Social media. Join the conversation in our Facebook Group and on Twitter!

Additional resources. A great and frequently updated resource is Steven Falk's collection of flesh fly images on Flickr.


What are flesh flies?

The calyptrate family Sarcophagidae (Diptera: Oestroidea) includes 65 species occurring in the British Isles. These include the well known "flesh flies" in the genus Sarcophaga, medium to large sized flies with tessellated patterns on the abdomen. Sarcophaga species are frequently seen basking on sunlit fences, rocks and other structures. They also engage in "summiting" at hilltops and other high points in landscapes.

Miltogramma punctata
Miltogramma punctata – a "satellite fly".

The family contains three subfamilies:

Miltogramminae: Kleptoparasites of solitary wasps and bees, sometimes known as "Satellite flies" from the habit of some species of closely following host species back to their nests.

Paramacronychiinae: Flies with a diverse biology ranging across necrophagy and predation of snails to parasites or parasitoids of mammals and insects.

Sarcophaginae: The typical "flesh flies" described above. Their biology is very varied and includes predators and parasitoids of various insects, breeding in animal faeces, carcasses, dead snails, decomposing organic matter. The biology of many species is poorly understood or completely unknown.