What Do Maggots Look Like?

What Do Maggots Look Like?

What we commonly refer to as a maggot is actually the larval stage of certain pests, such as flies (order Diptera) and beetles. The term doesn’t refer to a specific species, though most maggots found indoors are typically on their way to becoming common houseflies (Musca domestica). Still, maggots could be many types of flying insect, including pests like the apple maggot fly (Rhagoletis pomonella) or drone fly (Eristalis tenax).


Most kinds of maggots are the larvae of flies. They have no legs and are usually no larger than a grain of rice. Some species of maggots are tan or beige, but others appear whitish. Some, like the rat-tailed maggot, can even look a little red.


Maggots are omnivores that can eat meat or plant-based foods. They can eat almost anything, so long as it isn’t too far away. Maggots, while squirmy, aren’t the most mobile. Some can jump, but others stay where they were laid (often within a food source). There they continue to get the food and nutrition needed to change into adult insects. 

Since maggots need moisture to survive, it’s common for flies to lay their eggs to hatch in places with moist, decaying debris that the larvae can eat upon hatching. For example, you might find maggots on a piece of fruit or in a trash can with discarded food. Moist, organic, decaying materials are a perfect breeding ground and may lead to maggots emerging and turning into the adult pests you don’t want spreading around your home.


Maggots are in the larval stage of a pest’s development and usually will not stay in this stage for long. 

If the maggots are juvenile forms of the common housefly, they’ll live for around five or six days. At that point, they turn into pupae. After the pupation phase, they’ll emerge as adult flies.


How will you know you have maggots? The easiest and most straightforward way is because you’ll see them. These squirming juvenile insects are pretty obvious. They are usually found in groups because adult insects lay eggs in abundance. 

Most maggots are around the size of a grain of rice, so if you see your rice wiggling around, you’ve likely found flies or other insects before they’ve had the chance to pupate. At this stage, the easiest thing to do is to simply remove them and put them outside before they turn into pupae or adults. 

If you haven’t found maggots but you seem to have a lot of flies in your home, the likelihood is that you do have maggots somewhere. Any time a fly is breeding inside, you need to look for maggots in common places like trash cans, in open food stores, and in houseplant soil. 


There is a possibility of food poisoning if someone consumes the food maggots were living in. For that reason, it’s best to throw away any contaminated food when you discover maggots and clean all surfaces they may have touched to prevent the spread of bacteria.


Common houseflies (the most likely species of maggot people encounter) look for decaying food sources like compost piles and waste in trash cans to see if there is a suitable location to lay their eggs. So if you’re seeing maggots in your home, you probably have decaying food or organic materials nearby. 

To avoid maggots, stay on top of cleaning and keep food properly stored. Throw away rotten food and keep your food waste in a lidded trash can to discourage flies from laying eggs inside. Promptly empty trash cans and clean the cans themselves regularly. Don’t let things rot or decay in open spaces of the home, like on counters. 

Additionally, if you’ve started a compost collection, don’t keep that inside. Use an outdoor composter that is away from your windows and doors to minimize the chance of getting flies (and therefore maggots) inside. 


At Joshua’s Pest Control, our experts are ready to help you get rid of maggots, flies, and other pests that disrupt your home’s peaceful atmosphere. Get a free quote from one of our friendly experts today. 



Courtney Enzor has worked in the pest control industry for about a decade. From helping you build a fly trap to giving you the best tips for identifying various bugs, she loves answering all your pest-related questions and sharing her pest-related expertise through writing. At the end of the day, she hopes her content will help people avoid mishaps and keep families happy and healthy!