These are closely related to the Common Furniture Beetle or wood-worm. They are small reddish-brown insects, only about 3mm long, which attack stored foods in domestic larders.
Flour, biscuits, cake mixes, cereals, spices, meat and soup powders will attract them, and they have even been found thriving on such poisonous substances as strychnine, belladonna and aconite – hence the beetle’s American name; Drug Store Beetle.
They have been known to penetrate tin foil and lead, and have even bored through a shelf-full of books. The white larvae are very small and quite active when they hatch. They feed and grow for about four months before knitting themselves cocoons of food particles in which to pupate.
The old English ship rat or roof rat that brought the Black Death across Europe in the 14th century and the Great Plague of London in the 17th century.
They are still occasionally to be found in seaport towns but have mostly been ousted by their voracious big cousin, the larger Brown Rat from central Europe.
Blow flies are so called because they were believed to “blow” their eggs, or larvae on to exposed meats. It is a general description of a number of species of large buzzing flies, which include the Bluebottle, the Greenbottle and the Flesh Fly. They all like sunlight and are attracted to meat or carrion, and all may be found around dustbins in hot summer weather.
Their feeding habits (they vomit onto food to soften it up) and filthy feet, infect food, especially meat products, as they feed or seek egg-laying sites. Their Latin names indicate their habits; Calliphora vomitoria, Sarcophaga carnaria and Cyanomyia cadaverina are but three members of the group with a great capacity for transmitting the bacterial agents of food poisoning.”
The Bluebottle is a large buzzing fly with shiny, metallic blue body, 6-12mm long.
One Bluebottle can lay up to 600 eggs, which in warm weather will hatch in under 48 hours and produce maggots which can become fully developed in a week. These maggots burrow into meat or carrion as they feed on it, and then pupate, often in loose soil, for about ten days before emerging as adult flies from the brown pupal case.
Bluebottles, like other flies, are often found around refuse tips, rotting animal matter, dirt and dustbins. They commute from filth to food, and carry bacteria on their legs, feet and bodies.