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Do maggots turn into flies?

Maggots and flies certainly seem closely related, but do maggots actually turn into flies? The short answer is yes, maggots are an intermediate life stage for flies. Flies go through a process called complete metamorphosis with four main life stages: egg, larva (maggots), pupa, and adult.

The Fly Life Cycle

The fly life cycle begins when an adult female fly lays eggs. Fly eggs are tiny, about 1 mm long, and laid near a food source in groups of 75-150 eggs. Common places for flies to lay eggs include garbage, manure, and dead animals.

Within a day of being laid, fly eggs hatch into the second life stage, maggots. Maggots are the larval stage of flies. They look like tiny, pale worms about 2-15 mm long. Maggots feed and grow larger by eating their food source, whether it’s garbage, manure, or decaying flesh. During this stage, maggots molt or shed their skin several times as they grow. Maggots go through 3 larval stages called instars. After the 3rd instar, maggots have reached their maximum size, about 15 mm long.

Maggots Pupate

When fully grown, maggots enter the pupal stage. They stop eating and become pupae. To become a pupa, the maggot shortens and its soft body hardens into a protective case called a puparium. This stage looks like a brown capsule or shell, about 8 mm long.

Inside the puparium, the maggot radically transforms its body, becoming an adult fly. This process takes 1-2 weeks. When ready, the adult fly emerges from a circular hole in the end of the puparium. The whole life cycle takes about 2-4 weeks depending on environment, so maggots can turn into flies quite quickly.

Maggot vs Larva

While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, maggot is a specific term for fly larvae. Maggot refers exclusively to the larval stage of flies in the Dipteran family, which includes houseflies and blowflies. Other insect larvae are more properly called larvae or grubs.

Maggots and Wound Healing

Believe it or not, maggots have been used medicinally since ancient times. Maggot therapy introduces live, disinfected maggots into non-healing skin and soft tissue wounds. Maggot secretions help clean wounds by dissolving dead or infected tissue and killing bacteria. This helps wounds heal faster.

Maggots only eat dead tissue, leaving healthy tissue intact to heal. They also stimulate wound healing by promoting the growth of new blood vessels and connective tissue.

Modern maggot therapy uses sterile medicinal maggots produced specifically for wound care. Maggots are enclosed in a mesh tea bag or pouch to apply them to wounds. The maggots are left for 2-4 days and then removed when they have finished cleaning out the dead tissue.

Some key facts about medicinal maggots:

  • Used to treat chronic or infected wounds like pressure ulcers, venous stasis ulcers, neuropathic foot ulcers, and non-healing traumatic or post-surgical wounds
  • Maggots clean wounds faster and more effectively than surgical debridement
  • Accelerate healing in wounds unresponsive to conventional treatments
  • Reduce wound odor and infection
  • Stimulate wound healing by promoting granulation tissue formation and antimicrobial activity

While the thought may not appeal to everyone, maggot therapy takes advantage of the natural wound healing properties of fly larvae to help heal stubborn wounds.

Maggots vs Flies

Maggots and flies are two distinct life stages of the fly life cycle. Here’s a quick overview of the key differences:

Maggots Flies
Larval stage Adult stage
Worm-like, no legs Insect with head, thorax, abdomen, legs, wings
Eats constantly, grows quickly Does not grow, mates and reproduces
Lives 2-4 weeks Adult flies live 15-30 days
Pupates into fly Lays eggs that become maggots

The maggot is a temporary transitional stage in the development of a fly. Maggots represent the growth phase, developing from tiny eggs, feeding voraciously, and pupating into flies.


Maggots definitely do turn into flies through the process of complete metamorphosis. Female flies need to lay their eggs near a food source like rotting meat, manure, or garbage so that the hatched maggots have something to eat. The maggots grow quickly, gorging themselves on decaying organic matter until they are ready to pupate. Within the pupal casing, the maggot transforms into the adult fly which then emerges to reproduce and lay eggs, starting the cycle over again. So while they may start out small, given time and food, maggots will always turn into flies. Some types of maggots can even help heal wounds when used therapeutically. The relationship between maggots and flies is an excellent example of insect metamorphosis.