Can you eat flies?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat flies?”, and why eat insects?

Can you eat flies?

Yes, you can eat flies. But not all species of flies are edible. Insects are easy to cultivate with very little use of resources plus they are an abundant source of protein. 

There are a variety of ways you can enjoy the crunchy texture of the different insects. You can roast, smoke, or make candied insects, depending upon your taste and preferences.

More than 1900 edible insect species are known at the moment but not all of them are safe to eat. Some of the very brightly colored insects or those with hairy legs are toxic. 

The same goes for the disease-carrying flies and bugs that sting. The following table contains a list of 15 insects that you can safely eat.

Species Edible insects 
OrthopteraGrasshoppers, crickets, and cockroaches
HemipteraTrue bugs 
HomopteraCicadas and treehoppers
HymenopteraBees, ants, and wasps
DipteraFlies and mosquitoes
LepidopteraButterflies and moths
MegalopteraAlderflies and dobsonflies
OdonataDragonflies and damselflies
NeuropteraLacewings and antlions

The health effects of eating maggots

You may accidentally ingest maggots if you consume food contaminated with fly larvae. Maggots are white or cream-colored larvae of the common housefly that can grow around 3-12 millimeters in length.

An adult female housefly can release up to 130 eggs at a time. The eggs are laid in decaying organic matter, such as spoiled food or animal excreta.

Bacterial poisoning

Flies buzz over filthy areas and act as the vehicles of transmitting harmful bacteria from the decaying matter to food that people eat. 

Sometimes, the food is contaminated with larvae that have previously ingested the harmful bacteria on the decaying matter during its growth. 

Consuming such contaminated food is an indirect way to ingest the pathogenic bacteria. Flies commonly transmit E.coli and Salmonella.


Salmonella is a very common pathogen that leads to foodborne illness. The most common symptoms of this foodborne illness include abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

The illness starts to manifest itself after 12-72 hours of ingesting the contaminated food. The symptoms are usually gone in 4-7 days.

You do not need to go to a hospital if you have salmonella poisoning. However, if the symptoms persist for more than 4-7 days or you are experiencing severe dehydration, you may need hospitalization. 

You must drink plenty of water, clear broths, and fruit juices during salmonella to replenish the lost fluids and electrolytes due to excessive diarrhea and vomiting.

E.coli poisoning 

degree℉all strains of E.coli are harmful or pathogenic. The pathogenic strains of E.coli are a common cause of foodborne illness. 

The most common symptoms of E.coli poisoning include stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and fever (usually less than 101℉). 

The symptoms of E.coli poisoning may be mild to severe, depending upon the immunity of the infected individual, the virulence of the strain, and the number of bacteria ingested.

The symptoms of E.coli poisoning show up within 1-10 days of consuming the contaminated food. The recovery period for most people is 5-7 days. The infected individual must drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration.

Intestinal myiasis

Myiasis occurs when an individual serves as a host to pathogenic fly larvae that they ingested as a result of consuming contaminated food.

These larvae infest the intestine of the infected individual. Some people do not experience any symptoms of the infestation. They may notice larvae in their stool.

The most common symptoms of intestinal myiasis include abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, itching in the anus, and bleeding from the rectum. 

As compared to the US, intestinal myiasis is more prevalent in tropical and subtropical countries, including some of those in Africa and South America. People who travel a lot are at high risk of catching this illness.

What to do?

Consuming spoiled food contaminated with maggots leads to food poisoning. The symptoms can be mild or severe and last for several days.

Those in the immunocompromised group are at a greater risk of developing food poisoning. These individuals include young children, older adults, pregnant and breastfeeding women, those with weakened immune systems, such as people living with HIV or those undergoing an organ transplant.

When to see a doctor?

You need to see a doctor if you notice larvae in your stool, or experience diarrhea that persists for more than 2 days, a fever of more than 102˚F, bloody stools, dehydration, severe or persistent vomiting. In short, you need to see a doctor if the symptoms grow progressively worse.


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat flies?”, and why eat insects?


Hello, I'm Sana Ameer. I'm a student of Food Science and Technology at UVAS. I like to bake and I aspire to become a Food blogger.