How to Get Rid of Maggots


In this Article

  • What Are Maggots?
  • Types of Maggots?
  • Where Do Maggots Live?
  • Signs You Have Maggots 
  • Why Do You Get Maggots?
  • Health Risks of Maggots 
  • How to Get Rid of Maggots 

Maggots can be gross and unsanitary. If your home has been infested with maggots, you will need to know how to remove them safely and effectively. The only way to eradicate a maggot infestation is to find and eliminate the source. Use this guide to learn how to kill maggots and keep them out of your home for good.

What Are Maggots?

Maggots are the larvae of flies and are typically found in decaying organic matter. They are small and worm-like with pointed heads and no limbs. Although they are typically no longer than 1 inch, as maggots feed and grow, they can become quite large. At first, they are soft and white in color, but as they mature, they turn gray or black and their bodies harden. 

They are commonly used in forensic entomology — the study of insects and arthropods in relation to criminal investigation — but can also be useful as fishing bait, in wound debridement, and in composting. Once you know what maggots look like, it is easy to identify and eliminate them from your home.

Types of Maggots?

There are many different types and of maggots, each with their own unique characteristics. Some examples include:

Blowfly. Of the Calliphoridae family, blowfly maggots are typically found in decaying meat and are characterized by their shiny, metallic-looking bodies.

Flesh fly. The Sarcophagidae family of maggots are similar to blowfly maggots, but they are typically found in rotting organic matter rather than meat.

House fly. Muscidae maggots are found in rotting garbage and are often associated with unsanitary conditions.

Soldier fly. Stratiomyidae maggots live in decomposing organic matter, are used in composting, and are characterized by their hard, segmented bodies. 

Dermestid beetle. Dermestidae maggots are found in animal carcasses and dried animal products. These maggots are characterized by their elongated bodies.

Where Do Maggots Live?

It is possible to find maggots in various habitats including forests, fields, and urban environments. Different species prefer different environments. They are attracted to dead animals, garbage, and feces, and can also be found where decaying organic materials are present like in wounds. 

Signs You Have Maggots 

The following are possible signs that you have maggots in your home:

  • A strong, unpleasant odor coming from a garbage or compost bin
  • Large numbers of adult flies visible around your home
  • Maggots, pupae, or adult flies in the soil near your home

Depending on the species and environmental conditions, a maggot’s lifecycle usually lasts 5–10 days. However, they can continue to reproduce if not eliminated effectively. Therefore, an infestation can continue indefinitely.

Why Do You Get Maggots?

Warm and poorly ventilated areas can provide an ideal environment for maggots to grow. Maggots require a moist environment to survive and thrive, so they are often attracted to areas with high humidity or standing water. 

Unsanitary conditions like dirty, cluttered spaces or areas lacking proper waste management can create an environment for maggots to develop. Open wounds and infected tissue is also appealing to maggots. It is important to understand what attracts maggots in order to keep prevent them. Here are some steps you can take to keep maggots away: 

  1. Store all food products in airtight containers or the refrigerator
  2. Keep areas such as trashcans, pet food bowls, and other food sources tidy, contained, and clean
  3. Make sure your home is dry since standing water can provide an ideal breeding ground for maggots
  4. Keep windows and doors closed when possible to prevent flies from getting inside your home or space
  5. Clean floors and surfaces regularly with a disinfectant to remove traces of matter that might attract maggots

Health Risks of Maggots 

In general, maggots are not dangerous to healthy individuals. However, maggots can infect human tissue and cause a disease called myiasis. Symptoms of myiasis vary depending on the location and severity of the infestation, and it can affect both humans and animals. Untreated myiasis can lead to serious health complications and even death.

Because maggots feed on organic matter, they can unknowingly contaminate food that is later consumed by people, causing intestinal myiasis. Intestinal myiasis occurs when flies lay eggs in food, the food is eaten by a human, and then maggots hatch the human’s intestinal tract causing an infection.

However, maggots do not bite humans or animals, so there is no need to worry about them transmitting illnesses to you or your pets that way.

How to Get Rid of Maggots 

Maggots can be controlled with chemical methods, but some natural methods can also be used. Here are five ways to get rid of maggots:

  1. Cleanliness: One of the most effective ways to eliminate flies and maggots is to keep kitchens and other surfaces clean.
  2. Traps: Using fly traps enables you to catch adult flies and prevent them from mating. You can use bug zappers, fly paper, and sticky ribbons as traps.
  3. Natural predators: Birds and reptiles eat maggots. Encouraging these natural predators to frequent your garden by providing an attractive environment to them can help to keep maggot populations in check.
  4. Natural remedies: Use diatomaceous earth, a powder made from fossilized algae that dehydrates maggots.
  5. Chemical pesticides: Spray insecticides on maggots to kill them. However, it is vital to use these chemicals with caution and follow the instructions on the label. Many chemical pesticides can harm other animals and the environment.

To get rid of maggots on your pet, clean any open wounds or infected areas with hydrogen peroxide or an antiseptic solution. Keep the area clean and dry, and apply an antibiotic ointment if the wounds are severe. You should also take your pet to a veterinarian for treatment. 

Keeping maggots away from your home begins with figuring out why they appear. Identify the pest, locate the source, use multiple methods to ensure eradication, and take steps to prevent them from coming back.

Show Sources

California Childcare Health Program, University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing: “Integrated Pest Management: Flies.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Intestinal Myiasis—Washington,” “About Myiasis,” “Myiasis.”
Colorado State University Extension: “Dermestid Beetles (Carpet Beetles),” “Flies in the Home.”
Encyclopedia of Food Safety: “Foodborne Diseases: Overview of Biological Hazards and Foodborne Diseases.”
Forensic Science International: “Effectiveness of wound cleansing treatments on maggot (Diptera, Calliphoridae) mortality.”
Illinois Department of Public Health: “Prevention and Control: The House Fly and Other Filth Flies.”
International Journal of Pest Management: “Use of diatomaceous earth for the management of stored-product pests.”
The Journal of the American College of Clinical Wound Specialists: “Maggot Infestation: Various Treatment Modalities.”
Journal of Environmental Management: “Performance of black soldier fly larvae (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) for manure composting and production of cleaner compost.” 
Journal of Forensic Dental Sciences: “The use of insects in forensic investigations: An overview on the scope of forensic entomology.”
KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health: “Flesh Fly.”
Michigan State University Extension: “Insecticides for control of blueberry maggot.”
Oregon State University Extension Service: “Big maggots in your compost? They’re soldier fly larvae.”
Penn State Extension: “Moth Flies in the Home.”
Sudan University of Science and Technology College of Agricultural Studies Department on Plant Protection: Forensic Entymology A Review.”
Texas A&M Agrilife Extension: “Controlling Houseflies.”
United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration: “Chemical Hazards and Toxic Substances.”
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources: “Biological Control and Natural Enemies of Invertebrates,” “Maggots.”
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences: “house fly, Musca domestica Linnaeus.”
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: “Recognizing Insect Larval Types.”
University of Minnesota Extension: “Pantry pests: Insects found in stored food.”
University of Missouri Extension: “Household Flies.”
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: “Flesh Fly (Family Sarcophagidae),” “Soldier Fly (Family Stratiomyidae).”

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