Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 October 2021 | 13(12): 19831–19836


ISSN 0974-7907 (Online) | ISSN 0974-7893 (Print)

#6568 | Received 13 August 2020 | Final received 16 June 2021 | Finally accepted 15 October 2021



Flesh fly (Diptera: Sarcophagidae): male terminalia, diversity and expanded geographical distribution from India


Kanholi Sreejith 1, Shuvra Kanti Sinha 2, Santanu Mahato 3 & Edamana Pushpalatha 4


1,4 Department of Zoology, University of Calicut, Malappuram, Kerala 673635, India.

2 Calyptrate Research Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Sreegopal Banerjee College, Hooghly, West Bengal 712148, India.

3 Biopsychology Laboratory and Institution of Excellence, University of Mysore, Mysuru, Karnataka 570006, India.  

1, 2, 3,

4 (corresponding author)




Editor: Anonymity requested.   Date of publication: 26 October 2021 (online & print)


Citation: Sreejith, K., S.K. Sinha, S. Mahato & E. Pushpalatha (2021). Flesh fly (Diptera: Sarcophagidae): male terminalia, diversity and expanded geographical distribution from India.  Journal of Threatened Taxa 13(12): 19831–19836.


Copyright: © Sreejith et al. 2021. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  JoTT allows unrestricted use, reproduction, and distribution of this article in any medium by providing adequate credit to the author(s) and the source of publication.


Funding: This work was carried out by the Department of Zoology, University of Calicut in collaboration with

Sonamukhi College, Sonamukhi and was supported by SPG of University of Calicut, Kerala.


Competing interests: The author declares no competing interests. 


Acknowledgements: The authors are thankful to the Department of Zoology, University of Calicut for all the support given for fulfilling the work. The authors are also thankful to the Principals of Sonamukhi College, Sonamukhi, and Sreegopal Banerjee College, Hooghly, for giving the necessary permission for collaborative research with the Department of Zoology,  University of Calicut, Kerala.




Abstract: Despite its veterinary, medical and forensic importance, the biodiversity of sarcophagid flies (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) has remained poorly investigated in India. We have performed a survey of Sarcophagidae species in connection with a study conducted on Diptera, which exposed the flesh fly diversity in and around the campus of the University of Calicut, Kerala, India. The survey was conducted using traps baited with decomposing fish and chicken liver and by the sweeping method. Eleven species were collected, including four species recorded from this state for the first time, one of which is new to the Indian mainland and the second record after Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve. Male terminalia of Sinonipponia bengalensis, Parasarcophaga choudhuryi, Boettcherisca karnyi, and Boettcherisca nathani are illustrated. This result expands the knowledge on the geographical distribution and habitat occupancy of sarcophagid species as well as their forensic relevance and provides a background for future systematic investigations.


Keywords: Abundance, Boettcherisca karnyi,  Boettcherisca nathani, diversity, forensic importance, morphology, new record, Parasarcophaga, sarcophagid fly.


Abbreviations: AP—Apical plate of Paramere | LP—Lateral plate of Paramere | S—Styli of glans | T—Theca | V—Ventralia | UoC—University of Calicut.




Sarcophagid flies (Diptera: Sarcophagidae), commonly known as flesh flies, are abundant in all zoogeographic regions of the world with approximately 171 genera and 3,094 species (Pape et al. 2011). Out of these, 504 species in 50 genera have been described from India (Nandi 2002; Sinha & Nandi 2002a,b). Flesh flies show a large range of feeding habits, with adult flies feeding on nectar, fruit juice, and decomposing animal matters; they carry different types of germs on their body surface, which may cause diseases in humans and other animals, and larvae of some species are parasitic on various invertebrates, breed in vertebrate and invertebrate carrion, faeces or decaying organic matter (Pape 1987, 1996; Amoudi et al. 1992; Al-Misned 2000; Al-Misned et al. 2001; Graczyk et al. 2005; Pape et al. 2010; Al-Khalifa et al. 2020). This variety of feeding methods can have a direct impact on their capacity as pathogenic vectors and the larvae of some species cause myiasis in humans as well as in different animals (Dodge 1955; Zumpt 1965; Greenberg 1973, Crump & Pounds 1985; Guimaraes & Papavero 1999; Hagman et al. 2005; Stevens et al. 2006; Bermudez et al. 2010; Mello-Patiu & Luna-Dias 2010; Kelehear et al. 2020). Whereas sarcophagid flies are associated with decomposing carcasses and human bodies (Cherix et al. 2012; Vasconcelos et al. 2014; Al-Khalifa et al. 2020), the study of larval and pupal developments found in carcasses improves their effectiveness as useful insects in forensic science investigations (Pape 1996; Wells et al. 2001; Sinha & Mahato 2016; Ren et al. 2018; Samerjai et al. 2020).

Nandi (1990) documented nine species of flesh flies from different parts of Kerala and reported Parasarcophaga (Liosarcophaga) dux (Thomson) for the first time from Kerala. Nandi (2002) documented 20 flesh fly species in Miltogramminae (one species) and Sarcophaginae (19 species) from Kerala (Table 1). In the present faunistic survey, we aimed to contribute to the knowledge of the flesh fly diversity on the campus of the University of Calicut and the distribution of Sarcophagidae in Kerala — the most biodiversity-rich state in southern India.


Materials And Methods

The present survey was carried out at the University of Calicut Campus, Thenjipalam, Kerala (Figure 1).


Study area

The main campus of the University of Calicut is located in Tirurangadi Taluk of the Malappuram District, Kerala, southern India. The main campus is spread over 600 acres on the rural outskirts of Malappuram between 11.1340°N, 75.8952°E, and the last five years have experienced a mean minimum temperature of 28.9°C and a mean maximum of 30.5°C. The main habitats around the campus include gardens, botanical gardens, rubber plantations, various aquatic habitats such as ponds, paddy fields, reservoirs, orchards with mango, jackfruit, zapota, and guava, and terrestrial habitats such as primary and secondary plant successions. The Calicut University Botanical Garden (CUBG) is the largest and most diverse botanical garden of any university garden in the country, covering 45 acres and home to over 2,500 species of vascular plants. CUBG is considered one of the most important ex situ conservation centres for the rare and endangered flora of the Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The area receives southwest and northeast monsoons, the greater portion of the rainfall, however, is received from the south-west monsoon between June and September. The average annual rainfall of the district is 2,741 mm (IMD 2020).


Field methods and identification

As part of the study of dipteran diversity, a field collection programme for a faunistic survey was conducted by the team in the university campus and adjacent areas to establish documentation of flesh fly species. Collections of specimens in the university campus were done using traps baited with decomposing fish and chicken liver combined with entomological hand nets by standard sweeping. The flies were clustered around the bait, but the flies were from the Calliphoridae family and more from Muscidae. The number of flesh flies was surprisingly low. One observation was that flies were more in shady areas than in open sunshine. Flesh flies have also been found throughout the day. The specimens were identified in the laboratory using the keys, drawing illustrations of the male terminalia in Nandi (2002), and by observing chaetotaxy (arrangement of setae and bristles on the body) and the four species reported for first time from Kerala were dissected for confirmation of species identity. Since sarcophagid flies are not considerably different from each other, therefore, the characteristics of the genitalia are the only criteria for identifying them up to species level. this key was primarily focused on the characteristics of the genitalia.

Male terminalia were photographed with a Nikon Coolpix camera by keeping dissected terminalia in a cavity block under stereoscopic trinocular microscope.



A total of 23 individuals of flesh flies were collected from the University of Calicut campus and these were identified as comprising 11 species, of which, Nandi (2002) had previously reported seven from Kerala (Table 1). Four of the 11 species were newly recorded from the state of Kerala, i.e., Sinonipponia bengalensis Nandi, Parasarcophaga (Liosarcophaga) choudhuryi Sinha & Nandi, Boettcherisca karnyi (Hardy), and Boettcherisca nathani Lopes. Boettcherisca karnyi (Hardy) was recorded for the first time from the Indian mainland as previously recorded from Andaman Island (Nandi 2002). The characteristic features of the four new distributional records from Kerala are quite interesting:


Parasarcophaga (Liosarcophaga) choudhuryi (Sinha & Nandi)

Parasarcophaga (Liosarcophaga) choudhuryi is a smaller fly with a slender body. Its ventralia is oval and wide, with a longer stylus of glans (Image 1). Body length 8–9 mm. Parafrontal and parafacial black with golden pollen, the former with short scattered hairs; the latter with a row of short black hairs near the eye margin of which lower 3 are stouter. Frontal bristles 9; acrostichal bristles 0+1, dorsocentral bristles 4+5, mesopleural bristles 7–8, hypopleural bristles 6–7. Prostigmatic and propleural bristles well developed and accompanied by short hairs. 5th sternite Y-shaped with stout spines on inner sides and long hairs terminally on arms; inner forceps slightly curved with the groove at the apex; outer forceps almost oval with few hairs terminally. Apical plate of paraphallus slightly curved backward with the anterior membranous region and elongated apical process; styli of glans slightly longer than apical plate of paraphallus and with serrations at tip; ventralia almost oval with wide trilobed, posterior lobe with the curved chitinous area.


Sinonipponia bengalensis Nandi

Sinonipponia bengalensis also is rather small in size. Its fifth sternite is characterised by the presence of a long seta. Terminalia of this species also shows peculiar features having long and pointed styli of glans, and both an apical and a lateral plate of paraphallus (Image 2). Body length 6–9 mm. Width of frons about two-fifth that of one eye; frontal vita black, parafrontal and parafacial black with silvery pollen. Frontal bristles 10; acrostichal bristles 0+1, dorsocentral bristles 5+4, mesopleural bristles 6, hypopleural bristles 8–9. 5th sternite Y-shaped with short spines laterally and one long and several short hairs terminally on arms. Inner forceps almost straight, slightly curved and with a notch at the end; outer forceps dumb-bell shaped with hairs on distal end; apical plate of paraphallus pointed at end with backward projection; a lateral plate of paraphallus almost pointed, sclerotized and with basal membranous outgrowth; styli of glans long and crosses the apical part of paraphallus with anterior serrations. Ventralia black, pointed, hook-like and curved anteriorly.


Boettcherisca karnyi (Hardy)

Boettcherisca karnyi is quite similar in external appearance to Boettcherisca nathani and has minute differences in the male terminalia (Images 3). Body length 8–12 mm. Frontal bristles 11. Outer vertical bristles absent, inner vertical well developed; acrostichal bristles 0+1, dorsocentral bristles 5+5, mesopleural bristles 5, hypopleural bristles 9. Prostigmatic and propleural bristles well developed and accompanied by short hairs. 5th sternite Y-shaped with short window and two rows of closely set bristles laterally on arms. Apical plate of paraphallus curved pointed at the apex and with a pair of long pointed lateral processes; a lateral plate of paraphallus well developed with a pair of large two pointed unequal lateral plates of which anterior one more developed. Ventralia bilobed, well developed, spinous, and anterior margin almost rounded.


Boettcherisca nathani Lopes

The apical plate of paraphallus and styli of glans of Boettcherisca nathani are similar in appearance to Boettcherisca karnyi, but in Boettcherisca nathani only the ventralia part is with more digit form processes (Image 4). Body length 10–11 mm. Width of frons about three-fifth of one eye. Its width at the narrowest point of frons about more than twice that of each parafrontal; frontal bristles 12. Post gena black with numerous long brownish hairs; acrostichal bristles 0+1, dorsocentral bristles 5+5, mesopleural bristles 6, hypopleural bristles 8. Inner forceps almost triangular with hairs on its broad distal end; posterior paramere terminally hook-shaped; apical plate of paraphallus membranous, curved, pointed at the apex and with a pair of long lateral processes; a lateral plate of paraphallus sclerotized with two unequal pointed processes; styli of glans with apical incision and comb-like processes anteriorly. Ventralia large with short digit form processes and its anterior margin rounded.



The present study on flesh fly species in the University of Calicut campus revealed a relatively high level of diversity of flesh flies showing the presence of nearly 50% of previously reported species of Kerala, in the University Campus. The species density of pulp flies is exceptionally high, but there is no evidence of the threat to these flies in the study area. Parasarcophaga (Liosarcophaga) choudhuryi Sinha & Nandi was reported previously only from Indian Sundarbans by Sinha & Nandi (2002) and its presence in Kerala is surprising.  Boettcherisca karnyi (Hardy) was reported in India only from Andaman Islands earlier. This trend of species diversity is very astonishing and more species may be discovered if thorough surveys are conducted in the future. The present paper provides photographs of the male terminalia of Parasarcophaga (Liosarcophaga) choudhuryi Sinha & Nandi, Sinonipponia bengalensis Nandi, Boettcherisca karnyi (Hardy) and Boettcherisca nathani Lopes for the first time. Moreover, the first reports of four species of flesh flies from this state along with one species newly recorded from the Indian mainland are also very attractive. Efforts should be made to study the diversity and abundance of these flies in various parts of Kerala.



Table 1. Species of flesh fly recorded during this study.



Flesh fly species




Protomiltogramma obscurior (Villeneuve)

Coast of Malabar

Nandi 2002


Blaesoxipha nathani Lopes

Coast of Malabar

Nandi 2002


Boettcherisca peregrina (R-D)


Nandi 2002


Parasarcophaga ruficornis (Fabricius)

UoC, Kerala

Nandi 2002,

present study


Parasarcophaga dux (Thomson)

UoC, Kerala

Nandi 2002,

present study


Parasarcophaga brevicornis Ho

UoC, Kerala

Nandi 2002,

present study


Parasarcophaga (Curranea) scopariiformis (S-W)

Walayar Forest

Nandi 2002


Parasarcophaga (Pandelleisca) bainbriggei (S-W)


Nandi 2002


Parasarcophaga sericea (Walker)


Nandi 2002


Parasarcophaga hirtipes (Wiedemann)


Nandi 2002


Parasarcophaga misera (Walker)

UoC, Kerala

Nandi 2002,

present study


Parasarcophaga albiceps (Meigen)

UoC, Kerala

Nandi 2002,

present study


Robineauella walayari (S-W)

Karikal, Palghat, Walayar Forest

Nandi 2002


Thyrsocnema (Pseudothyrsocnema) longistylata Shinonaga & Lopes

Karikal, Palghat, Cinchona

Nandi 2002


Thyrsocnema (Pseudothyrsocnema) indica Shinonaga & Lopes

Calicut, Cinchona, Muttupatty, Munnar

Nandi 2002


Harpagophalla kempi (S-W)


Nandi 2002


Iranihindia martellata (S-W)

UoC, Kerala, Willingdon island

Nandi 2002,

present study


Iranihindia futilis (S-W)

Several localities

Nandi 2002


Seniorwhitea reciproca (Walker)

UoC, Kerala

Nandi 2002,

present study


Leucomyia cinerea (Fabricius)

Malabar Coast

Nandi 2002


Sinonipponia bengalensis Nandi

UoC, Kerala

present study


Parasarcophaga (Liosarcophaga) choudhuryi Sinha & Nandi

UoC, Kerala

Present study


Boettcherisca karnyi (Hardy)

UoC, Kerala

Present study


Boettcherisca nathani Lopes

UoC, Kerala

Present study

*—newly recorded from Kerala | **—newly recorded from Indian mainland. UoC—University of Calicut.



Key to genera and species newly recorded from Kerala:


Ventralia large and almost rounded  …………………………………………………………………. 2

       Ventralia pointed hook-like and curved anteriorly; an apical plate of paraphallus with a backward projection; styli of glans serrated anteriorly  …………... Sinonipponia bengalensis Nandi


Styli of glans with or without apical incision ……………………………………………………. 3

       Styli of glans slightly longer than apical plate of paraphallus and with serrations at tip ………………………………………… Parasarcophaga

........…………................. (Liosarcophaga) choudhuryi (Sinha and Nandi)


Apical plate of paraphallus membranous; styli of glans with comb-like process anteriorly …………..........  Boettcherisca nathani Lopes

       Apical plate of paraphallus curved pointed at the apex and with two subapical hairs; styli of glans with a median and two lateral processes ………………………………...……….…… Boettcherisca karnyi (Hardy)



For figure & images - - click here





Al-Khalifa, M.S., A.M. Mashaly & A.H. Al-Qahtni (2020). Insect species colonized indoor and outdoor human corpses in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Journal of King Saud University-Science 32(3): 1812–1817.

Al-Misned, F.A.M. (2000). Developmental time, mortality and weight of the immature fleshfly Bercaea cruentata (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) larvae exposed to mercury. The Journal of Agricultural Science 5: 63–67.

Al-Misned, F.A.M., M.A. Amoudi & S.S.M. Abou-Fannah (2001). First record of Sarcophaga (Liosarcophaga) dux Thomson, 1868 (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) from Saudi Arabia. Pakistan Journal of Zoology 33: 313–315.

Amoudi, M.A., M. Leclercq & R. Richet (1992). Rearing of a newly recorded dipterous fly Parasarcophaga (Liopygia) ruficornis (Fabricius) (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) from Saudi Arabia under laboratory conditions. Pakistan Journal of Zoology 24: 181–186.

Bermudez, C., R. Buenaventura, M. Couri, R.J. Miranda & J.M. Herrera (2010). Mixed myiasis by Philornis glaucinis (Diptera: Muscidae), Sarcodexia lambens (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) and Lucilia eximia (Diptera: Calliphoridae) in Ramphocelus dimidiatus (Aves: Thraupidae) chicks in Panama. Boletinde la SEA 47: 445-446.

Cherix, D., C. Wyss & T. Pape (2012). Occurrences of flesh flies (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) on human cadavers in Switzerland, and their importance as forensic indicators. Forensic Science International 220: 158–163.

Crump, M.L. & J.A. Pounds (1985). Lethal parasitism of an aposematic anuran (Atelopus varius) by Notochaeta bufonivora (Diptera: Sarcophagidae). Journal of Parasitology 71: 588–591.

Dodge, H.R. (1955). Sarcophagid flies parasitic on reptiles (Diptera: Sarcophagidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 57: 183–187.

Graczyk, T.K., R. Knight & L. Tamang (2005). Mechanical transmission of human protozoan parasites by insects. Clinical microbiology reviews 18: 128–132.

Greenberg, B. (1973). Flies and Disease. Vol. II. Biology and Disease Transmission. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.

Guhathakurta, P., B.L. Sudeepkumar, P. Menon, A.K. Prasad, S.T. Sable & S.C. Advani (2020). Observed Rainfall Variability and Changes over Kerala State. India Meteorological Department, 27 pp.

Guimarães, J.H. & N. Papavero (1999). Myiasis in man and animals in the Neotropical Region: Bibliographical database. São Paulo, Editora Plêiades/FAPESP, 308pp.

Hagman, M., T. Pape & R. Schulte (2005). Flesh fly myiasis (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) in Peruvian poison frogs genus Epipedobates (Anura, Dendrobatidae). Phyllomedusa. Journal of Herpetology 4: 69–73.

Kelehear, C., R. Ibanez, C. Rodriguez, S. Buitrago & A.A. Durant-Archibold (2020). Sarcophagid Myiasis in the Bufonid Rhinella alata in Panama. Journal of Wildlife Diseases  56(3): 667–672.

Mello-Patiu C.A. & C. Luna-Dias (2010). Myiasis in the Neotropical amphibian Hypsiboas beckeri (Anura: Hylidae) by a new species of Lepidodexia (Diptera: Sarcophagidae). Journal of Parasitology 96: 685–688.

Nandi, B.C. (1990). Sarcophagid Flies (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) from Tamil Nadu and Kerala, India. Records of the Zoological Survey of India 87: 151–155.

Nandi, B.C. (2002). Diptera: Sarcophagidae: Fauna of India and the adjacent countries. Zoological Survey of India 10: 1–608.

Pape, T. (1987). The Sarcophagidae (Diptera) of Fennoscandia and Denmark. Fauna Entomologica Scandinavica 19:1–203.

Pape, T. (1996). Catalogue of the Sarcophagidae of the World (Insecta: Diptera). Memoirs on Entomology, International 8: 1–558.

Pape, T., G.A. Dahlem, B.V. Brown, A. Borkent, J.M. Cumming, D.M. Wood, N.E. Woodley & M.A. Zumbado (2010). Sarcophagidae (Flesh flies), pp. 1297–1335. Manual of Central American Diptera vol. 2.

Pape, T., V. Blagoderov & M.B. Mostovski (2011). Order Diptera Linnaeus, 1758. In: Zhang, Z.-Q. (ed.). Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification and survey of taxonomic richness. Zootaxa 3148: 222–229.

Ren, L., Y. Shang, W. Chen, F. Meng, J. Cai, G. Zhu & Y. Guo (2018). A brief review of forensically important flesh flies (Diptera: Sarcophagidae). Forensic sciences research, 3: 16-26.

Samerjai, C., K.L. Sukontason, N. Sontigun, K. Sukontason, T. Klong-klaew, T. Chareonviriyaphap & P. Somboon (2020). Mitochondrial DNA-Based Identification of Forensically Important Flesh Flies (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) in Thailand. Insects 11(1): 2.

Shannon, C.E. & W. Weiner (1963). The Mathematical Theory of Communication. Urban University Illinois Press, 125 pp.

Sinha, S.K. & B.C. Nandi (2002a). Parasarcophaga (Liosarcophaga) choudhuryi sp. nov. (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) from Sagar Island, Sundarbans Biosphere reserve, India. Records of the Zoological Survey of India 100: 117–121.

Sinha, S.K. & B.C. Nandi (2002b). A new species of Lioproctia Enderlein (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) from Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve, India. Proceedings of the Zoological Society, Calcutta 55(2): 39–41

Sinha, S.K. & S. Mahato (2016). Intra-puparial development of flesh fly Sarcophaga dux (Thomson) (Diptera, Sarcophagidae). Current Science 111: 1063–1070.

Stevens, J.R., J.F. Wallman, D. Otranto, R. Wall & T. Pape (2006). The evolution of myiasis in humans and other animals in the Old and New Worlds (part II): biological and life-history studies. Trends in Parasitology 22: 181–188.

Vasconcelos, S.D., T.F. Soares & D.L. Costa (2014). Multiple colonization of a cadaver by insects in an indoor environment: first record of Fannia trimaculata (Diptera: Fanniidae) and Peckia (Peckia) chrysostoma (Sarcophagidae) as colonizers of a human corpse. International Journal of Legal Medicine 128: 229–233.

Wells, J.D., T. Pape & F.A.H. Sperling (2001). DNA-based identification and molecular systematic of forensically important Sarcophagidae (Diptera). Journal of Forensic Sciences 46: 1098–1102.

Zumpt, F. (1965). Myasis in man and animals in the Old World. Butterworth’s, London, 267pp.