The Time I Had Maggots – What Maggots Are And How To Kill Them

by | Insects, Maggots

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So, I woke up the other morning to find maggots crawling from my front door to my kitchen and the nearby bedrooms. You’ll see a video of them a little later in this post.

Photo of maggots crawling on my wooden floor
These are only a few of the hundreds of maggots that were crawling along my floor one morning.

If you’re here, you might have your own problem with maggots, so let’s start off by finding out what maggots are…

Maggots are the second stage in a fly’s life cycle. They hatch from fly eggs and look like white or cream-colored worms. After a few days, maggots grow a covering over themselves to become pupae, before finally emerging as adult flies.

The truth is there are a few destructive insects that look a lot like maggots. If you make the wrong call and use the wrong pest control, you could end up with a lot more than worm-like creatures on your floor first thing in the morning, like me.

By the end of this blog post, you’ll know:

  • What insects have maggots, so you know what insects might be the cause
  • What maggots look like, so you can identify fly maggots without a doubt
  • Why flies have maggots, to understand their behavior and how to get rid of them
  • How to kill maggots, and keep them away for good

Insects that have maggots

About 75% of insects have four stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, adult. This is called a “complete metamorphosis” because the insect has four different looks and four distinct phases as it grows up.

Some insects with a complete metamorphosis life cycle include flies, butterflies, bees, mosquitos, beetles, and ants.

Here’s where maggots fit into this:

All insects with a complete metamorphosis have larvae in their life cycle, but different insects’ larvae have different names.

For example, mosquito larvae are called wrigglers. Japanese beetle larvae are called grubs. And fly larvae are known as maggots.

Diagram of the fly life cycle, from adult fly to egg, larvae / maggot, and pupa
As you can see in the diagram above, maggots are larvae that hatch from fly eggs.

So, the name “maggots” refers to the larvae of flies only. More specifically, maggots come from Brachycera flies, such as common blow flies, fruit flies, house flies, and cheese flies.

Several insects have larvae that look a lot like maggots and these larvae can be confused with maggots, but they can never be maggots if they aren’t flies. Some insects with a life cycle stage that people often confuse for fly maggots are termite larvae and Indian meal moth caterpillars.

One of the reasons why you want to make sure you have maggots and not another insect’s larvae or caterpillars is because you need to use the right pest control methods to get rid of the problem, before they enter the next life cycle stage and cause you more problems.

Here’s a video showing the maggot infestation in my outdoor bin, where the maggots in my house crawled from:

If you have maggots and you’re wondering where they cam from, check out this blog post that lists all the places to look for a maggot infestation and what fly put them there.

What maggots look like

Different flies can have different maggots, and not all maggots are found in all areas, but most maggots share certain characteristics.

To identify a maggot, look for all or most of these common traits:

  • A worm-like creature
  • Up to 3/4 inch (2 cm) long
  • About the same size as the other maggots nearby (wormlike insects of different sizes are often termite larvae)
  • A white or cream-colored body
  • No clear neck or head; it looks like the body and head are one long tube
  • Tiny hooks for mouthparts
  • No legs or arms
  • No wings
  • No antennae
  • Maggots are always either eating something or crawling around frantically in the open looking for food
Photo of a maggot with labels to identify a maggot
The labels in the photo of the maggot above show you what common characteristics to look for to correctly identify a fly maggot.

Click here for the full list of signs to look for to tell if you have maggots.

Why flies have maggots

Before fly larvae hatch, they are nourished by the yolk inside the egg. But when maggots come out of the shells, what do they eat?

They eat whatever they find first…

Female flies lay their eggs near a food source so that when the maggots hatch, they have something to start eating.

The food source depends on what type of fly lays the eggs: a house fly eats feces, food, and waste, so females lay eggs near any of these things. A fruit fly eats fruits and sweet foods, so females usually lay their eggs on damaged or overripe fruit.

Photo of maggots on a bin
I found these maggots infesting my outdoor bin. The eggs were laid by common houseflies, with the trash in the bin as a food source for their maggots.

A maggot’s main purpose is to eat as much as possible. Maggots fill up on food, which gives them energy to store, which powers them through the pupal stage of their life cycle, when they can’t eat and they need energy to transform into adults.

Getting enough food helps them grow into strong, healthy flies. And being strong and healthy gives them the best chance to survive and breed successfully before they die.

As soon as a maggot hatches, it looks for food. If it doesn’t hatch on something to eat, it crawls and even jumps up to 5 inches (12 cm) high to find an edible treat.

If you see maggots crawling around, you’ll know that they’re looking for food.

In fact, the maggot is driven by a never-ending hunger that’s so big, it will eat its siblings if there are a lot of maggots around and not enough food.

If you have a problem with maggots, remove all fly food sources, such as pet food, fruit, litter boxes, etc.

Click here to read my article on how to find where maggots are coming from.

Flies lay eggs where their larvae have something to eat after hatching. If there’s nothing for larvae to eat in your home, your yard, or your bins, flies look for somewhere else to lay their eggs, and you won’t get maggots.

How to kill maggots

If you have maggots, it’s a good idea to kill them as quickly as possible. Here are my best tips and tricks, and products from Amazon, that work well:

  • Seal bones and food waste in ziploc bags before throwing them away in the bin. Keep all food covered and sealed when it’s out on the kitchen counter, and put it in the fridge or freezer as soon as possible.
  • Use bins that seal completely, so flies can’t sneak their way into the trash to lay eggs.
  • Pick up animal poop daily, as many flies love laying eggs in animal feces.
  • If there are a few stray maggots crawling around, squash them yourself. 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 don’t squash maggots, they often survive and become flies that lay more eggs (and cause more maggots) in your home.
  • If there are a lot of maggots in your home or bin, spray them with an insecticide designed to kill flying insects, including flies. Here’s one of the maggot spray killers I use and love because it works fast and kills them all.
  • Wash away the maggots with hot soapy water.
  • 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 that maggots hatch from. Here’s my blog post about all the smells that 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. Be sure to put the guards where animals and children can’t get them.

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