4 Ninja Ways To Find Where Maggots Come From

by | Insects, Maggots

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If you have maggots, you need to locate the source as quickly as possible so you can kill them before they turn into flies. But there are many, if not hundreds, of places in your home and on your property where maggots could be hatching from fly eggs.

Below is my list of the 4 best ways to find where maggots are coming from, then clear instructions on how to get rid of them when you find them.

4 ways to find where maggots are coming from

Find out where maggots are coming from by:

Doing a visual inspection

A visual inspection is a fancy way of saying take a close look to see if you can find signs of where the maggots come from. In fact, this is one of the easiest ways to tell where maggots hatched.

When doing your visual inspection, check all areas of your home and property, such as cracks and crevices in floors and walls, in drains, and in crawl spaces. Also look at any good fly breeding sites, such as food scraps, rotting organic matter, and garbage cans.

Click here for a list of places flies love laying their eggs, so you know where to look.

Use a flashlight, black light, and even a magnifying glass to see better in dark corners and small spaces.

First look for signs of maggots, such as maggot damage and pupae. I have a blog post that explains all the signs of maggots with pictures – you can read that blog post by clicking HERE.

Signs like maggot damage and pupae tell you that’s a source of a maggot infestation, even if you don’t see live maggots there.

Remember that flies often lay eggs in different places, often close to each other, so there could be more than one source of maggots.

Don’t stop looking for maggot hatching areas if you find one – there could be more.

When maggots hatch, they crawl off in a frenzy to find food.

If you see live maggots, look in the opposite direction of the way they’re crawling. Look for more maggots behind them, and keep going in the opposite direction.

Photo of maggots crawling on my wooden floor
To find where these maggots come from, I looked in the opposite direction they were crawling in. Turns out they were coming from my kitchen bin!

Follow the trail (in the opposite direction), to see if you can find where they are starting their journey.

Following the smell

A bad maggot infestation has a smell that’s hard to miss when you know what it is, so use your nose to find where maggots come from.

In my experience, a maggot infestation smells like food that’s gone off, but with a slightly sweet or unusual smell to regular waste. It’s almost musty.

You can’t always put your finger on what the smell is, but you know it’s different to the normal smell of old food.

Once you smell it you become familiar with it and will recognize it if you smell it again.

Follow this smell if you’re maggot hunting.

As the odor gets stronger, you’re getting closer, or at least you know you’re in the general area of the maggots and can look for other signs to find them.

Checking food storage areas

Flies lay eggs near food, especially common house flies and fruit flies. So check your pantry, kitchen cupboards, fruit baskets, and anywhere else you keep food.

Maggots can be in open or sealed containers.

But how do maggots get into sealed containers or packaging? Flies lay eggs inside when the container or packaging is open. Maggots hatch from these eggs a few days later, even if the container or packaging is now closed tightly, and they start eating whatever food is around them.

Checking garbage bins and compost bins

Flies lay eggs close to whatever their maggots eat when they hatch. Because different flies eat different things, they lay their eggs in different places.

That said, most maggots come from garbage bins, either indoors or out, because most household flies eat garbage, like food scraps.

If a compost bin isn’t managed properly or there’s a lot of rotting food in there, flies will take the opportunity to lay eggs there too.

Don’t confuse worms for maggots or maggots for worms in a compost pile. Worms are good for the soil and finding worms in compost is a good thing.

Click here if you want tips on how to identify maggots to know for sure that’s what you have.

Photo of a maggot with labels to identify a maggot
This is a maggot with labels to show you what to look for when you need to identify maggots.

Put on gloves and take a look in your bins and compost heap to see if you can see maggots or signs of them. Use a shovel or tongs to move the waste around, and look closely.

How to get rid of maggots once you know where they’re coming from

Now that you know where maggots are coming from, it’s a good idea to kill them as quickly as possible before they spread.

Here are my best tips and tricks, and products from Amazon, that will help you get rid of maggots:

  • Squash stray maggots: Place a few squares of toilet paper over a maggot and squash it with your fingernail, until you hear it pop. Then close the toilet paper over the squashed maggot, pick it up, and throw it away or flush it down the toilet. If you just pick up the maggots and don’t squash them, they often survive and become flies that lay more eggs (and cause more maggots) in your home.
  • If you don’t want to squash maggots, pick them up with the sticky side of sticky tape, or scoop them up with a little shovel and seal them in a ziplock bag or throw them in a bucket of hot, soapy water to drown. Whatever you do, you need to collect them and secure them before they turn into flies and lay hundreds more eggs (and you get more maggots from those eggs).
  • If there are a lot of maggots, spray them with an insecticide that kills flies. Here’s one of the maggot spray killers I use and love because it works fast and kills them all.
  • Wash maggots away with hot, soapy water. Vinegar is acidic and can be added to the hot water to kill maggots.
  • Clean maggot-prone areas and your bins with cleaning products that have a scent flies don’t like, such as this citrus-scented hospital-grade spray or this commercial fly repellent. Remember that you need to keep flies away because they are the ones that lay the eggs maggots hatch from. Here’s my blog post about all the smells flies hate, if you want to know more.
  • If you keep on getting maggots in your bin, indoors or outside, place these garbage guards in your trash cans. The guards last up to 4 months and kill all maggots, flies, and other insects.

I'm Monique. I love gardening and spending time in my backyard growing things. Here's where I share what I know about backyard pests and what to do about them, so you can enjoy your yard too.

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Monique loves gardening and spending time in her backyard, where she grows flowers, succulents, herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

Monique spends a lot of time researching how to protect her backyard from harmful pests and trying to attract beneficial insects and animals.

She shares everything that she learns and tests here at Backyard Pests.


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