How to Get Rid of Maggots

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on January 23, 2023
4 min read

Maggots can be gross and unsanitary. If your home has been infested with maggots, you will need to know how to remove them safely and effectively. The only way to eradicate a maggot infestation is to find and eliminate the source. Use this guide to learn how to kill maggots and keep them out of your home for good.

Maggots are the larvae of flies and are typically found in decaying organic matter. They are small and worm-like with pointed heads and no limbs. Although they are typically no longer than 1 inch, as maggots feed and grow, they can become quite large. At first, they are soft and white in color, but as they mature, they turn gray or black and their bodies harden. 

They are commonly used in forensic entomology — the study of insects and arthropods in relation to criminal investigation — but can also be useful as fishing bait, in wound debridement, and in composting. Once you know what maggots look like, it is easy to identify and eliminate them from your home.

There are many types of maggots, each with their own unique characteristics. Some examples include:

Blowfly. Of the Calliphoridae family, blowfly maggots are typically found in decaying meat and are characterized by their shiny, metallic-looking bodies.

Flesh fly. The Sarcophagidae family of maggots are similar to blowfly maggots, but they are typically found in rotting organic matter rather than meat.

House fly. Muscidae maggots are found in rotting garbage and are often associated with unsanitary conditions.

Soldier fly. Stratiomyidae maggots live in decomposing organic matter, are used in composting, and are characterized by their hard, segmented bodies. 

Dermestid beetle. Dermestidae maggots are found in animal carcasses and dried animal products. These maggots are characterized by their elongated bodies.

It is possible to find maggots in various habitats including forests, fields, and urban environments. Different species prefer different environments. They are attracted to dead animals, garbage, and feces, and can also be found where decaying organic materials are present like in wounds. 

The following are possible signs that you have maggots in your home:

  • A strong, unpleasant odor coming from a garbage or compost bin
  • Large numbers of adult flies visible around your home
  • Maggots, pupae, or adult flies in the soil near your home

Depending on the species and environmental conditions, a maggot's lifecycle usually lasts 5-10 days. However, they can continue to reproduce if not eliminated effectively. Therefore, an infestation can continue indefinitely.

Warm and poorly ventilated areas can provide an ideal environment for maggots to grow. Maggots require a moist environment to survive and thrive, so they are often attracted to areas with high humidity or standing water. 

Unsanitary conditions like dirty, cluttered spaces or areas lacking proper waste management can create an environment for maggots to develop. Open wounds and infected tissue are also appealing to maggots. 

Here are some steps you can take to keep maggots away: 

  1. Store all food products in airtight containers or the refrigerator.
  2. Keep areas such as trashcans, pet food bowls, and other food sources tidy, contained, and clean.
  3. Make sure your home is dry since standing water can provide an ideal breeding ground for maggots.
  4. Keep windows and doors closed when possible to prevent flies from getting inside your home or space.
  5. Clean floors and surfaces regularly with a disinfectant to remove traces of matter that might attract maggots.

In general, maggots are not dangerous to healthy people. However, maggots can infect human tissue and cause a disease called myiasis. Symptoms of myiasis vary depending on the location and severity of the infestation, and it can affect both humans and animals. Untreated myiasis can lead to serious health complications and even death.

Because maggots feed on organic matter, they can contaminate food that is later eaten by people, causing intestinal myiasis. Intestinal myiasis occurs when flies lay eggs in food, the food is eaten by a human, and then maggots hatch the human's intestinal tract, causing an infection.

However, maggots do not bite humans or animals, so there is no need to worry about them transmitting illnesses to you or your pets that way.

Maggots can be controlled with chemical methods, but some natural methods can also be used. Here are five ways to get rid of maggots:

  1. Cleanliness: One of the most effective ways to eliminate flies and maggots is to keep kitchens and other surfaces clean.
  2. Traps: Using fly traps enables you to catch adult flies and prevent them from mating. You can use bug zappers, fly paper, and sticky ribbons as traps.
  3. Natural predators: Birds and reptiles eat maggots. Encouraging these natural predators to frequent your garden by providing an attractive environment to them can help to keep maggot populations in check.
  4. Natural remedies: Use diatomaceous earth, a powder made from fossilized algae that dehydrates maggots.
  5. Chemical pesticides: Spray insecticides on maggots to kill them. However, it is vital to use these chemicals with caution and follow the instructions on the label. Many chemical pesticides can harm other animals and the environment.

To get rid of maggots on your pet, clean any open wounds or infected areas with hydrogen peroxide or an antiseptic solution. Keep the area clean and dry, and apply an antibiotic ointment if the wounds are severe. You should also take your pet to a veterinarian for treatment. 

Keeping maggots away from your home begins with figuring out why they appear. Identify the pest, locate the source, use multiple methods to ensure eradication, and take steps to prevent them from coming back.