View Full Version : maggots in winter?

General Joy
08-14-2008, 05:02 PM
Anyone know if it would be possible to find live maggots in the northern U.S. in winter? (in Montana, specifically)? Do they feed on carrion even in the extreme cold?

08-14-2008, 05:13 PM
Bait shop?

08-14-2008, 05:33 PM
Where there are flies, there are maggots. So inside a heated building, yes, but outside in the snow, no.

08-14-2008, 05:54 PM
I’ve hears stories about churches and other large buildings suddenly becoming plagued by swarms of flies after a couple of mild days in the middle of winter. I guess the little buggers lurk in the shadows ready to take advantage of any opportunity that comes their way.

08-14-2008, 05:59 PM
Oh, and thought #2. Once a carcass begins rotting, it generates some heat. If it lay in a sheltered location (maybe on a bed of decaying straw) it might remain warm enough to keep the maggots alive.

08-14-2008, 06:00 PM
This is just from observation, so take if for what it's worth.

Flies go dormant below a certain temperature. To answer your question, if there's snow on the ground - no flies - no maggots.

08-14-2008, 06:00 PM
I agree with GeorgeK. Not outside (in the winter).

But I think you could also find them in barns (though not heated, the animal's bodies can provide enough heat to keep the building fairly warm). The interior of a compost pile might also work (the process of composting provides warmth).

Tsu Dho Nimh
08-14-2008, 07:27 PM
As an ex-Montana resident, I know there are no maggots in the winter. And no decomposing carcasses to provide heat. Even the manure piles by the barns barely stay warm.

If something dies, it cools off and stays frozen until spring. Carrion eaters might gnaw the meatsicle, but it's not going to decompose until spring, if there is anything left by then. Locally, an entire elk that fellover a small ledge at a ski resort froze solid, and was nothing but bones in the spring ... no odor wafting from the site, but the coyotes and ravens picked it clean. Every time there was a warm spell they would strip the thawed parts of edible bits.

You need flies, and they don't fly until it's above freezing. And then you need eggs being laid in a warm spot that stays warm long enough to hatch, and still warm while the maggots grow and pupate.

The common pest in winter in houses is the "clusterfly" ... it's been hibernating, not in a maggotstage.

08-14-2008, 08:23 PM
I honestly don't know if ice-fishermen use maggots as bait. I don't do much (any) fishing myself, so I don't know what kind of fish eat maggots. However, I know you can get live maggots at bait shops. But I'm not sure if its an all year round sort of thing. Heck, I've even seen them sold at gas stations during peak fishing season.

General Joy
08-14-2008, 09:50 PM
OK, great. I just wanted to see how plausible it was. Thanks, everyone!

C.M. Daniels
08-15-2008, 04:56 AM
When I was a grad-student at U of Montana, there was someone who did her thesis on decomp rates in MT, using pig carcasses as human analogs.

Her thesis is available through the Mansfield Library. It's by Terneny, Tiffany T.
Title: Estimation of time since death in humans using mature pigs.

You can get it through interlibrary loan.