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Abominable maggots invade the kitchen out of nowhere. Food leftovers come to life and the garbage can is teeming with worms. Read here how nasty pinworms develop with tips on the most common causes.

Genesis simply explained

Maggots in the kitchen are the offspring of flies. In technical jargon, a maggot is called a larva. The worms can be recognized by a cream-colored, legless and headless body. It is an intermediate form during the development from the egg to the finished insect capable of flight. The development process takes place in the following steps:

  • Time window of formation: spring to autumn (maximum activity in midsummer)
  • mated fly female lays egg packet with up to 150 eggs
  • favorite dumping grounds: decomposing organic matter, such as garbage and rotting food
  • optimal temperature level: 20°-25° Celsius (at least 16° Celsius)
  • Maturation time of the eggs until the maggots hatch: 10 to 46 hours (the warmer, the faster)
  • Maturity time from a maggot to an insect: 3 larval stages over a period of 3 to 14 days

Under ideal, warm and humid conditions, female flies lay their egg packets several times at intervals of 3 to 4 days. A cycle is set in motion, as a result of which hundreds of worms are formed, which within a few days turn into sexually mature flies and in turn lay eggs.

Locate maggot infestation

After laying their eggs, flies no longer care about their brood. For this reason, female flies with packets of eggs in their luggage keep an eye out for suitable food sources for hatched larvae in the kitchen. Putrid materials softened by decomposition are at the top of the menu for maggots. Pinworms are particularly common in the kitchen at these locations:

  • Garbage can (also under the lid)
  • Open groceries (fruit basket, muesli pack, box of chocolates, sugar bowl and the like)
  • Dog or cat food bowl
  • Sink and dishwasher drain
  • wet sponges and similar cleaning utensils
  • Drawers of kitchen cabinets and pantry storage
  • Litter box, birdcage, terrarium
  • in wall joints, behind skirting boards, in furniture cracks

In principle, all organic, protein-containing materials are threatened by maggot infestation. Worms prefer to feed on rotten meat, fermenting fruit and moldy cheese. In the absence of favored food sources, voracious larvae do not spurn similar materials, such as compost or pet feces.

Tip: Pinworms in potting soil of kitchen herbs are the larvae of fungus gnats (Sciaridae). The good news is that female sciarids don't lay their eggs in food or trash cans. Of course, the maggot infestation does not end well for the affected plants, because the beasts lay hands on the roots.

Identify kitchen flies

Three types of flies are primarily responsible for maggot infestations in your immediate living environment. Act here according to the motto "Know your enemy" in order to identify the culprits in good time and take countermeasures. You should be familiar with these kitchen flies:

Common Housefly (Musca domestica)

Houseflies are 4 to 8 mm long and have a gray body. Red compound eyes and four vertical stripes on the body are their distinguishing features. Other features include black extremities and a yellowish underside. Two large wings protrude beyond the abdomen and cause an unmistakable buzzing sound in flight. At rest, the wings are spread at a narrow angle. The larger females place their eggs in groups of 120 to 150 each in rotting food or excrement.

Source: USDAgov, Common house fly, Musca domestica, edited from Plantopedia, CC BY 2.0

Tip: Where there are no flies, there are no maggots. The best prevention against worms in the kitchen is a close-meshed fly screen on windows and doors. Food stored under a fly hood is out of reach for bold female flies looking for a place to lay their eggs.

Blowflies (Calliphoridae)

Blowflies can be recognized at first glance by their shiny metallic colour. The repertoire includes iridescent blue, iridescent green and iridescent golden green. At up to 15 mm, a blowfly is significantly larger than a housefly. Red compound eyes sit on the dark head. The smell of carrion magically attracts bluebottles. For this reason, these kitchen flies are the most common culprit when leftover meat is infested with maggots.

Source: Vengolis, Blow-fly 4856, edited from Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 4.0

Fruit flies (Drosophilidae)

Compared to houseflies and blowflies, fruit flies are the least of the evils in the kitchen. Numerous middle names, such as vinegar fly, fruit fly and fruit fly indicate their special preference for acidic substances. Of the 50 fruit fly species found in Germany, it is primarily Drosophila melanogaster that has become unpopular as an annoying kitchen fly because its nasty maggots spoil our appetite for fruit. Fruit flies can be identified by an approximately 2.5 mm small, yellowish-brown body and bright red eyes.

Source: Katja Schulz from Washington, D.C., USA, Tiny Drosophilid (29146017194), edited by Plantopedia, CC BY 2.0

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