The Greenbottle Flies of Nottinghamshire
Flies of the Genus Lucilia (Family Calliphoridae) are often more commonly referred to as 'Greenbottles'. These flies are similar to the equally familiar 'Bluebottles' and usually given the same life-shortening treatment, following their unwanted invasion into most homes during the warm Summer months.

The Calliphoridae are sometimes known as 'Blow Flies', but such a name seems to do little to further encourage their study, or improve their image within the public's mind-set.

Admittedly, their feeding preferences often leave a great deal to be desired and they're not cute and endearing. Yet seen close up, these really are magnificent insects.

A problem with public image

All Lucilia have the advantage of being beautifully coloured in varying shades of bright metallic green. This often becomes bronze-toned, or even distinctly reddish with age, helping them take on a completely new look, which can lead to problems with identification for those new to studying flies. Most flies are difficult to get to grips with and many entomologists refuse to develop further interest in our Dipterous fauna, after perhaps tentatively dipping into Hoverflies.

Identification is often difficult, but the reward for those willing to put the effort in, will be that the majority of records for a great many species, can often result in a county first. Most flies are still considerably under-recorded and your records will certainly help create a better picture and understanding of Nottinghamshire's Dipterous fauna in general, so why not be adventurous and give it a go?

Despite their less than perfect image with most householders, Lucilias and other Calliphorids play vital roles in helping dispose of animal and human waste, decomposng flesh etc, but can help transmit disease through contact.

  Commonly known as the Sheep-strike Greenbottle, Lucilia sericata can be the cause of serious problems to the farmer. Females lay batches of eggs within the wool of sheep and once hatched, the larvae feed begin to feed on the skin surface. Occasionally, this causes lesions of the skin which later become infected.

It can lead to myiasis, in which the larva grows within, or under the skin of the host, while feeding on its tissue. Lucilia bufonivora provides a good example of this in the Common Toad (Bufo bufo), with the larva usually living within the nasal cavity and ultimately leading to the host's death.

But some species are also regarded as being considerably important to both forensic and medical sciences. Lucilia sericata is certainly of special interest to the forensic entomologist, as it is one of the first insects to arrive at a corpse after death. The stage of larval development on a corpse, coupled with other factors including weather and temperature etc, can be used to help determine an accurate time of death.

In medicine, the larvae of Lucilia sericata have been used to help clean wounds, by directly removing tissue which has become infected, or which is either dead or dying. Larval excretions can encourage the regeneration of healthy tissue and have apparently been shown to lower the level of bacteria in the blood of patients infected with MRSA (Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

Nottinghamshire species and records

Seven species of Lucilia are known from the UK. Of these, all but Lucilia illustris (Meigen, 1826) have been recorded from Nottinghamshire. Historically J.W. Carr lists only Lucilia caesar (Linnaeus, 1758), Lucilia silvarum (Meigen, 1826) and Lucilia sericata (Meigen, 1826) in his book 'The Invertebrate Fauna of Nottinghamshire. Nottingham: J.& H. Bell Ltd (1916)' and there has been little work done on this Genus since.

Streakless Greenbottle
Lucilia ampullacea (Villeneuve, 1922)
Nottinghamshire records: There are old records from near Calverton and Burton Joyce dating from 1921, but no further records which we can source until we recorded it on a number of occasions in 2017. We conducted specifically targetted searches throughout the year and recorded it from Warsop Wood, Hills and Holes SSSI (Market Warsop), Holborn Hill Plantation, Newlands Recreation Ground (Clipstone), Thoresby Hall and Kirton Wood.

Habitat and notes: This is probably widespread across much of the county and can be found in woodland where the general humidity tends to be higher. It is the most shade-loving of the county's Lucilia and the larvae are thought to develop in carrion but have been found to be the cause of myiasis in toads and hedgehogs.

Toad Greenbottle
Lucilia bufonivora Moniez, 1876
Nottinghamshire records: There appears to be just a single county only record, sent to us by the Nottingham Biological and Geological Records Centre in 2017, when a Toad showing the characteristic nasal myiasis caused by the larva of L. bufonivora, was recorded from Bestwood CP (Big Wood) by Jérémy Cauchois on July 8th 2017.

Habitat and notes: Lucilia bufonivora is associated with wetlands and other damp places that support good Toad populations, where it is often found in company with Lucilia silvarum.

The larvae develop inside the nasal cavities of Toads, although they have been recorded from other parts of the body.

Common Greenbottle
Lucilia caesar (Linnaeus, 1758)
Nottinghamshire records: Recorded historically in Nottinghamshire, when it appears to have been as common over a century ago, as it is today. Carr lists no individual records in his 1917 book, only stating it to be 'very common everywhere in the county'.

Habitat: This is usually the most commonly encountered Lucilia in and around houses, but will be found at a wide variety of sites. We have records from a number of sites including the Idle Valley NR, Edwinstowe, Clipstone Old Quarter (Sherwood Forest), Meden Vale, Calverton, Warsop Wood and Market Warsop, suggesting it is widespread throughout Nottinghamshire.

Richard's Greenbottle
Lucilia richardsi (Collin in Richards, 1926)
Nottinghamshire records: First recorded in Nottinghamshire from Colwick Woods (White, O.M.) in 1950, then by the same recorder at Treswell Wood in 1973. In 2008, it turned up in a survey of Oak Tree Heath at Mansfield, but all recent county records, seem to relate to our own recording efforts.

We occasionally record it in among numbers of the much commoner Lucilia caesar, from our own Market Warsop garden and have recorded it once, from a garden at Mapperley in Nottingham.

Habitat: Nottinghamshire records suggest that Lucilia richardsi is probably quite widespread and could be encountered almost anywhere from woodland to suburban gardens.

Sheep-strike Greenbottle
Lucilia sericata (Meigen, 1826)
Nottinghamshire records: There are just three historical records listed by Carr. Two of these are undated, but include records from South Leverton (Thornley) and Worksop (Houghton). A record of both sexes from Nottingham on May 27th 1898, has no recorder attributed to it.

It seems that most of the Nottinghamshire's modern records are attributable to ourselves and Lucilia sericata is certainly a species we regularly record in our Market Warsop garden and also from a number of sites in the Sherwood Forest/Mansfield areas.

Habitat: Based on our own records, we assume this to be a widespread and very much under-recorded species over much of Nottinghamshire, especially in more agricultural areas. It has less synanthropic tendencies than Lucilia ceasar and can be a major problem to farmers, causing Sheep-strike in Sheep.

Marsh Greenbottle
Lucilia silvarum (Meigen, 1826)
Nottinghamshire records: Historically rare, or severely under-recorded in Nottinghamshire. J.W. Carr lists just two records, of a 'specimen flying over water-cress in bed of old Trent' at Marnham on July 19th 1901 (Thornley) and from East Leake on June 9th 1912.

Modern records are surprisingly few, even with the lack of regular Diptera recorders, but there are records from Attenborough NR in 1973 (White, O.M.) and more recently in 2015.

We have records of single insects from our garden at Market Warsop in 2011 and at Clipstone Old Quarter (Sherwood Forest) in 2016.

Habitat: This is currently one of the county's rarer Lucilias, generally preferring wetland sites. Larval development causes myiasis in Frogs and Toads, so it is possible to record this species away from water.