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Comprehensive Description

Chrysomya megacephala Fabricius, 1794


Type status: Other material. Occurrence: catalogNumber: I/D 28: 3 male and I/D 29: 3 female ; recordedBy: Dr. S. Janarthanan ; individualCount: 25 ; sex: 12 male, 13 female; disposition: Zoological Survey of India, Southern Regional Centre, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India; Taxon: kingdom: Animalia; phylum: Arthropoda; class: Insecta; order: Diptera; family: Calliforidae; genus: Chrysomya; specificEpithet: megacephala; taxonRank: species; vernacularName: Oriental latrine fly; taxonomicStatus: accepted; Location: country: India ; stateProvince: Tamil Nadu; municipality: Chennai; verbatimLocality: Royapuram fishing horbour; verbatimElevation: 2 m; verbatimLatitude: 13°07'44.73 N; verbatimLongitude: 80°17'52.70 E; Identification: identifiedBy: P. Ramaraj & C. Selvakumar; dateIdentified: 29 Jan 2014; identificationReferences: Senior-White et al., 1940; identificationRemarks: Eye facets of upper two-thirds greately enlarged and sharply demarcated from small facets of lower third; Event: samplingProtocol: Hand picking ; eventDate: 2013-12-22 ; Record Level: institutionCode: University of Madras, Chennai


Larva: Fully mature third instar muscoid-shaped (11 mm length), composed of 12 segments with pointed anterior and blunt posterior end (Fig. 2a). Cephaloskeleton present in anterior end; dorsal cornu longer than ventral cornua; accessory sclerite, parastomal sclerite present; anterodorsal process apparent (Fig. 2b). Anterior spiracle possessed eight to 12 marginal branches (Fig. 2c). Dorsal cuticular spines between the prothorax and mesothorax arranged single, each having one to three dark pointed tips (Fig. 2d). Inner dorsal tubercle moderate between middle dorsal tubercle and outer dorsal tubercle, with latter tubercle largest; a pair of the posterior spiracles clearly visible at the caudal end (Fig. 2e). Peritreme incomplete and heavily pigmented as a dark structure encircling three relatively straight spiracular openings (slits), with middle slits appearing slightly bent inward (Fig. 2f).


Larger in size than larvae; cylindrical in shape (Fig. 3a). A pair of anterior spiracles located laterally on the prothorax at the anterior tip (Fig. 3b). A pair of posterior spiracles located prominently on the contracted surface of caudal region. Each spiracle more or less an oval shaped peritreme, encircling three straight spiracular slits (Fig. 3c).


Male (Fig. 4a): Body length 10-11 mm.

Head: Eye facets of upper two-thirds greatly enlarged and sharply demarked from small facets of lower third (Fig. 4c). Antenna short, postpedicel four times length of pedicel, pedicel dark brown, third brownish; arista dark brown, long plumose; palpi yellowish and slender (Fig. 5a). Thorax: Prostigmatic bristles present; anterior and posterior thoracic spiracles dark brown. Wings: Stem-vein with a row of setulae on upper posterior side; upper surface of lower lobe of squama hairy; upper squama white, partly dark margined; lower squama brown (Fig. 5b). Abdomen: Genital tergites bluish with black hairs; inner forceps elongated, outer forceps reduced (Fig. 5c); anterior paramere wide, slightly curved anteriorly; posterior paramere bifurcated at end; acrophallus wide at end and with a wide stakled projection posteriorly (Fig. 5d).

Female: (Fig. 4b). Body length 10-11 mm.

Head: Eyes separated by one-quarter total width of head; facets uniformly small; frons clearly separated; widest part of frons more than width of ocellar triangle; frontal reddish to black, with small hairs on the upper part; frontal bristles short and weak; parafrontalia slightly narrower than width of frons, covered with golden tomentum, but appearing black towards vertex in certain lights; parafacilia yellowish brown with silvery pollen and white hairs (Fig. 4d).

Molecular identification and DNA barcoding

The 651 bp mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) sequences of Chrysomya megacephala (sdf) were 100% identical with available NCBI database sequences of Chrysomya megacephala using BLAST analysis. These mtCOI gene sequences of Chrysomya megacephala were submitted to NCBI database (Accession No. AB910389-male; AB910390-female) and DNA barcodes were generated for both the sexes based on their COI sequences using Barcode of Life Database (BOLD system; Process ID SPLID013-13 and SPLID033-14).


South India - Tamil Nadu (Chennai); Kerala (Calicut); North India - West Bengal and rapidly throughout the continent.


Life cycle: Second and third instar larvae of Chrysomya megacephala (sdf) were collected from decaying fishes of Royapuram fishing harbour of North Chennai, Tamil Nadu, South India. Adults emerged in the rearing chamber 7-9 d after pupation. Mating began 2 d after emergence and oviposition occurred at 3-4 d of age and laid egg mass on pieces of spoiled chicken in a squat cup. Each egg mass contained 200-300 eggs. Eggs held at 28 °C hatched on 1 d. Second instars emerged 2 d after hatching, becoming 3rd instar 2 d later, and then pupation occurred 4-6 d.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Chrysomya megacephala

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.

There are 47 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

-- end --

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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Chrysomya megacephala

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 111
Specimens with Barcodes: 178
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)


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Chrysomya megacephala

Chrysomya megacephala, more commonly known as the oriental latrine fly, is a member of the family Calliphoridae (blowflies). It is a warm-weather fly with a greenish-blue metallic box-like body. The fly infests corpses soon after death, making it important to forensic science. This fly is implicated in some public health issues; it can cause accidental myiasis,[1] and also infects fish and livestock.


C. megacephala's eggs are "oval with one flat face and another convex".[2] Adult flies reflect a metallic blue-green color on their thorax and abdomen and have yellow gena, or cheeks.[3] Larvae vary in size according to instar and are shaped more thickly towards the rear.[4] C. megacephala have large red eyes, those of males being close together, and those of females farther apart.[5] The cercus of the male is longer than that of the female.[6]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Chrysomya megacephala has a wide geographical distribution. It is most common in the Oriental region and Australasia.[7] It is also found in Japan and the Palearctic region. The range of C. megacephala has grown since the 1970s, with the species expanding into New Zealand and Africa,[8] along with South, Central, and North America. C. megacephala entered the United States through harbors and airports.[9] The fly has been found in California,[10] as well as Texas,[11] Louisiana,[12] and Hawaii.[13] C. megacephala exists in two forms, the normal and the derived.[citation needed] Tropical forests on the Pacific Islands, such as Samoa, are home to the normal form; the normal is considered to be the plesiomorphic form of C. megacephala.[citation needed] The derived form is thought to have emerged from Papua New Guinea and is said to be synanthropic, or ecologically associated with humans.[citation needed]

Behavior and ecology[edit]

Climactic variation[edit]

C. megacephala prefer warm climates, and display a correlation between warmer temperatures and higher fecundity. In tropical populations, such as in Brazil, fertility is also lower in areas with high densities of larvae, where many in one small area compete for the same food source. A correlation between wing size and temperature as well as tibia size and temperature has also been found in this species. There was a similar relationship between wing and tibia size and fecundity. All three of these values variables, fecundity, wing size and tibia size, stay within the same range throughout the year, showing seasonal variation to be absent. This has been of interest to researchers, since this fly is present in high numbers in warm weather and low numbers in cold weather. The majority of Dipteran species that have had a life table constructed have demonstrated a tendency for smaller bodies in the warmer months. C. megacephala has a relatively[clarification needed] long lifespan as an adult which has helped the species become successful at invading new geographical areas. The long adult lifespan means that the parents are present to rear the offspring, ensuring their survival.[14]


Flies laying eggs on a dead baby bird.

The developmental stages of C. megacephala include egg, larva and pupa. A female fly may lay as many as 200 to 300 eggs, often in human feces, meat or fish.[15] Larval stages include first, second and third instals or growth periods.[16] The eggs take approximately one day to develop, while the larva take 5.4 days and the pupa 5.3 days.[17] Population numbers as well as body size are greatly influenced by temperature.[18] The adult lifespan of the fly is approximately seven days.[19] The development of C. megacephala is linked to the length of time spent feeding in the larval stage, as well as to temperature; the lower the temperature, the more slowly the larvae develop.[20] In laboratory studies conducted at 27 °C., eggs hatch in 18 hours; the first molt occurs in 30 hours; the second molt in 72 hours; pupation after 144 hours; and the adult emerges after approximately 234 hours. These intervals vary depending on geographical location; other environmental factors also can determine how long flies will stay in the larval stage. Males tend to emerge two or three hours ahead of the females.[21]

The reproduction and survival rates of C. megacephala are closely related to developmental factors, including the amount of available food, and competition from larvae of other species, such as C. rufifacies.[22] In the presence of competing larvae, those of C. megacephala spend less time feeding, leading to early pupation, smaller adults, and early reproduction. C. rufifacies is known to cannibalize maggot masses and is thus a huge competitor.[clarification needed][23]

Predators and prey[edit]

Chrysomya albiceps is also known to predate on C. megacephala during the larval stage when they must compete for the same food source.[24] Beetles are also known to predate on C. megacephala. C. megacephala is not predaceous in the adult or larval form, preferring to feed on necrophagous material of any kind, such as fish, cows and humans.

Larval competition[edit]

C. megacephala larvae are known to compete with C. rufifacies larvae for food in a mixed-species environment. Research has shown that under specific population densities, C. rufifacies will facultatively feed on other species of maggots and on its own species. When C. rufifacies and C. megacephala larvae are put into cultures separately from one another in high densities, C. megacephala has a higher rate of survival than C. rufifacies. Both species had a lighter adult weight than normal and pupated earlier. The third instar of C. rufifacies will eat Chrysomya megacephala when the larvae are in high density. Despite this predation on Chrysomya megacephala, both species had a lower survival rate, lighter adult weight and pupated early.[25]

Forensic science[edit]

Importance in forensic science[edit]

C. megacephala is considered important to forensic science because it is one of the first flies to show up on a corpse, and so the time of death can easily be determined when Chrysomya megacephala larvae are found on a body. In many forensic entomology cases either C. rufifacies or Chrysomya megacephala are found on the decaying corpse; mitochondrial DNA is the main methodused to determine which subfamily is present.[26] The species' wide geographical distribution and high fecundity also make it useful in forensic cases; C. megacephala is among the most common blowflies found.

Larval dispersion patterns of C. megacephala also make it forensically important. Knowing that, to pupate, larvae move away from the food source to find a safe place to metamorphose, forensic entomologists can accurately calculate a post mortem interval.[27] Knowledge of larval competition is also useful in forensic studies, because it could affect the estimate of the time of death. If only C. rufifacies is found on a body, it is not accurate to use only this species to calculate a time of colonization. The colonization of C. megacephala prior to C. rufifacies must be taken into account.[25]

Larval-state poisoning detection[edit]

In any part of the world that uses organophosphates, C. megacephala could prove to be beneficial. Organophosphate compounds are used in agriculture and are highly toxic.[28] Organophosphate poisoning often causes death, and in many cases, by evaluating the body tissue and fluids, the toxin can be identified as the source of the poisoning. However, it is somewhat difficult to evaluate the body tissue in a body that is exceedingly decomposed. Nevertheless, a medical examiner in Hawaii worked on a case in which poisoning by malathion, an organophosphate insecticide,[29] was thought to be the cause of death. The victim’s stomach contents and body fat were examined and found to have contained malathion. The fly larvae of Chrysomya megacephala and Chrysomya rufifacies were also present at the scene on the body and were tested for malathion. Both of these species did contain malathion, but there had been no previous record of organophosphates in their larvae. Studying larvae from decomposed remains may provide an effective method of determining the presence of these toxins in a body that is extremely decayed.[30]

Use in other research[edit]

C. megacephala has a beneficial and practical value apart from being significant in forensic investigations; this blowfly is the source of pollination for mangos in the Australian region. While most areas wish to rid themselves of C. megacephala, Taiwanese farmers have found ways to enhance the population of this blowfly so that more mangos will be pollinated.[31]

Public health and agricultural issues[edit]

Myiasis in livestock[edit]

C. megacephala causes myiasis in humans and animals. This causes losses in cattle and fish industries all over the world. Studies are being done on C. megacephala to determine its role as a vector for diarrhea-causing bacteria such as E-coli.[22]

Public health importance and management control[edit]

C. megacephala are known to be the source of accidental (secondary) myiasis in humans, where the flies do not pierce the skin but invade an open wound.[32] The first record of human miasis caused by C. megacephala and C. rufifacies was in Thailand, where a 53-year old man had a tumor lesion where the larvae accumulated. Most recorded miasis cases, however, do not involve the fly.[33] C. megacephala is a carrier of pathogens, such as bacteria, protozoan cysts, and helminth eggs, to human food, because it lays its eggs on human feces, and will land on human food soon after.[34]

The flies also cause a huge economic problem in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific. In these areas sun-drying is the major method of preserving fish, as ice is typically unaffordable. However, blowfly larvae tend to infect these sun-dried fish when the weather is warm and humid. In an experiment, 95% of the infecting flies were found to be C. megacephala.[35] The flies can be controlled by using an odor that the flies are attracted to to trap them.[32] Insecticides are also used, although this results in the development of resistance.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brundage, Adrienne. “Entomology”. Forensic Entomology Class Lecture. Texas A&M University, College Station. 2 Mar. 2009.
  2. ^ José Augusto de Oliveira David, Thalita Rocha, and Flávio Henrique Caetano. “Ultramorphological characteristics of Chrysomya megacephala (Diptera, Calliphoridae) eggs and its eclosion” (2008):
  3. ^ Jonathan A. Cammack. “A Survey of the Necrophilous Diptera on the Island of Dominica” Pg. 6 Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.
  4. ^ Jason H. Bryd, James L. Castner. “Forensic Entomology; The Utility of Arthropods in Legal Investigations” Pg. 33
  5. ^ Byrd, Jason H., and James L. Castner. Forensic Entomology. Florida: CRC Press, 2001.
  6. ^ Chaiwong, Tarinee; Sukontason, Kom; Olson, Jimmy K.; Kurahashi, Hiromu; Chaithong, Udom; Sukontason, Kabkaew L. (April 2008). "Fine structure of the reproductive system of Chrysomya megacephala". Parasitology Research 102 (5): 973–80. doi:10.1007/s00436-007-0863-6. PMID 18180955. 
  7. ^ Wall Richard, and David Shearer. Veterinary Entomology: Arthropod Ectoparasites of Veterinary Importance . London: Springer, 1997.
  8. ^ Williams KA, Villet MH (2006). "A new and earlier record of Chrysomya megacephala in South Africa, with notes on another exotic species, Calliphora vicina (Diptera: Calliphoridae)" (PDF). African Invertebrates 47: 347–350. 
  9. ^ Williams KA, Villet MH (December 2006). "A new and earlier record of Chrysomya megacephala in South Africa" (PDF). African Invertebrates 47: 349. 
  10. ^ Gordoy WAC, et al. (September–October 1996). "Dynamics of Experimental Populations of Native and Introduced Blowflies (Diptera: Calliphoridae): Mathematical Modelling and the Transition from Asymptotic Equilibrium to Bounded Oscillations". Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz 91 (5): 639–40. PMID 9137751. 
  11. ^ Wells JD (May 1991). "Chrysomya megacephala (Diptera: Calliphoridae) has reached the continental United States: review of its biology, pest status, and spread around the world". J. Med. Entomol. 28 (3): 471–3. PMID 1875378. 
  12. ^ Pharr, Lauren R. 2009. A Taphonomic Model of Concealment: Decomposition and the Postmortem Interval (PMI) in a 55-Gallon Barrel. M.A. thesis, Louisiana State University.
  13. ^ Goff, M. Lee A Fly for the Prosecution: How Insect Evidence Helps Solve Crimes. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2001.
  14. ^ Tomberlin JK, Reeves WK, Sheppard DC (2001). "First record of Chrysomya megacephala (Calliphoridae: Diptera) in Georgia, USA". Florida Entomologist 84 (2): 300–1. doi:10.2307/3496184. JSTOR 3496184. 
  15. ^ Doe, Peter E. “Fish Drying and Smoking” Production and Quality. CRC Press: 177, 179, 186.,M1
  16. ^ M. Lee Goff. “A Fly for the Prosecution” How Insect Evidence Helps Solve Crimes. Pg. 40,+instars,+pupae,+adult&source=bl&ots=JwrByojFnw&sig=NogsHGe-UrdIEPzw3OQmlAgO6kg&hl=en&ei=tGDGSYfHDIrhtgfHmuzICg&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result#PPA40,M1
  17. ^ Refaat M. Gabre, Fatma K. Adham, Hsin Chi. (2005). "Life Table of Chrysomya mecagecephala (Fabricius) (Diptera: Calliphoridae". International Journal of Ecology, Acta Oecologica 27 (3): 179–183 see p. 180. doi:10.1016/j.actao.2004.12.002. 
  18. ^ Regada C, Godoy WAC (2006). "Larval density, temperature and biological aspects of Chrysomya megacephala(Diptera: Calliphoridae)". Arq. Bras. Med. Vet. Zootec. 58 (4): 562–6. doi:10.1590/S0102-09352006000400018. 
  19. ^ Doe, Peter E. “Fish Drying and Smoking” Production and Quality. CRC Press: 177, 179, 186.,M1
  20. ^ Piangjai S, Siriwattanarungsee S, Sukontason KL, Sukontason K (2008). "Morphology and developmental rate of blowflies Chrysomya megacephala and Chrysomya rufifacies in Thailand: application in forensic entomology". Parasitol Res. 102 (6): 1207–16. doi:10.1007/s00436-008-0895-6. PMID 18264799. 
  21. ^ Kurahashi H, Wells JD (1994). "Chrysomya megacephala development: rate, variation and the implications for forensic entomology". Jpn. J. Sant. Zool 45 (4): 303–9. 
  22. ^ a b Bunchoo M, Khantawa B, Piangjai S, Rongsiyam Y, Sukontason KL, Sukontason K (2007). "Comparison between Musca dometica and Chrysomya megacephala as carriers of bacteria in northern Thailand". Southeast Asia J. Trop. Med. Public Health. 
  23. ^ Piangjai S, Siriwattanarungsee S, Sukontason KL, Sukontason K (2008). "Morphology and developmental rate of blowflies Chrysomya megacephala and Chrysomya rufifacies in Thailand: application in forensic entomology". Parasitol Res. 102 (6): 1207–16. doi:10.1007/s00436-008-0895-6. PMID 18264799. 
  24. ^ Gomes, Leonardo, Marcos Rogério Sanches and Claudio José Von Zuben. 2007. Behavior of the Combined Radial Post-feeding Larval Dispersal of the Blowflies Chrysomya megacephala and Chrysomya albiceps (Diptera, Calliphoridae)
  25. ^ a b Shiao, Shiuh-Feng and Ta-Chuan Yeh (2008). "Larval Competition of Chrysomya megacephala and Chrysomya rufifacies (Diptera: Calliphoridae): Behavior and Ecological Studies of Two Blow Fly Species of Forensic Significance". J. Med. Entomol. 45. 
  26. ^ Shiuh-Feng S, Yeh T (2008). "Larval competition of Chrysomya megacephala and Chrysomya rufifacies: behavior and ecological studies of two blow fly species of forensic significance". J. Med. Entomol. 45 (4): 785–799. doi:10.1603/0022-2585(2008)45[785:LCOCMA]2.0.CO;2. PMID 18714884. 
  27. ^ Byrd, James H. and James L. Castner. Forensic Entomology: The Utility of Arthropods in Legal Investigations. CRC Press, New York. 2001.
  28. ^ Wallman JF (1997). "First Record of the Oriental Latrine Fly, Chrysomya Megacephala, from South Australia" (PDF). Transaction of the Royal Society of S. Aust. 121 (4): 163–4. 
  29. ^ “Organophosphate Toxicity.” Department of Natural Resources. 2008.,1607,7-153-10370_12150_12220-27249--,00.html
  30. ^ Gunatilake, and Lee Goff (1989). "Detection of Organophosphate Poisoning in a Putrefying Body by Analyzing Arthropod Larvae". Journal of Forensic Sciences 34 (3): 714–6. PMID 2738573. 
  31. ^ Gabre RM, et al. (2005). "Life table of Chrysomya megacephala" (PDF). Acta Oecologica 27 (3): 179. doi:10.1016/j.actao.2004.12.002. 
  32. ^ a b Bunchu, Nophawan, et al. (2007). "Behavioral responses of Chrysomya megacephala to natural products". Parasitology Research 102 (3): 419–29. doi:10.1007/s00436-007-0780-8. PMID 18026752. 
  33. ^ Sukontason, Kabkaew L., et al. (2005). "First Report of Human Myiasis Caused by Chrysomya megacephala and Chrysomya rufifacies in Thailand, and Its Implication in Forensic Entomology" (PDF). J. Med. Entomol. 42 (4): 702–4. doi:10.1603/0022-2585(2005)042[0702:FROHMC]2.0.CO;2. PMID 16119563. 
  34. ^ Hui, Yiu H. Handbook of Food Science, Technology, and Engineering. Florida: CRC Press, 2006.
  35. ^ Wall R, Howard JJ,Bindu J (April 2001). "The Seasonal Abundance of Blowflies Infesting Drying Fish in South-West India". Journal of Applied Ecology 38 (2): 339–348. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2664.2001.00588.x. JSTOR 2655802. 
  36. ^ Sripakdee, Duanghatai, et al. (2005). "Effect of Microwave Irradiation on the Blowfly Chrysomya Megacephala" (PDF). Chiang Mai University Research Note 36 (4): 893. 
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