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African Starfish flower, Carrion flower (with Blow flies & Flesh flies)

Stapelia sp.


Low-growing, clump-forming succulant plant with erect 4-sided stems with toothed (but spineless) edges. This one had several buds and a large, red, hairy, open flower. There are approximately 75 different species, with flower that may be red, purple or yellow, often with a banded pattern, with surfaces that may be smooth or hairy. Most generate the stench of rotten meat, which - together with their color and hairs (if present) - attracts pollinators which are drawn to carrion. This flower had attracted both Calliphoridae Blow Flies (green) and Sarcophagidae Flesh Flies (black-and-white).


This was spotted in the Desert garden at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. Stapelias are native to southern Africa - predominantly South Africa.


Calliphoridae: There are approximately 1,100 known species of Calliphoridae (commonly known as blow-flies, carrion flies, bluebottles, greenbottles, or cluster flies). The characteristics and arrangement of hairlike bristles are used to tell the difference between members of this family. Adults are commonly shiny with metallic coloring, often with blue, green, or black thoraces and abdomens. The maggot larvae are often used as fishing bait - and are also the 'Medical Maggots' used for maggot debridement therapy in wound care ( ). Sarcophagidae; and There are over 2500 species, mainly from warm climates. They are ovoviviparous, depositing hatched or hatching maggots instead of eggs. Because of this, medicolegal forensic entomologists can use the maggot stage to help determine the amount of time victims have been exposed to the environment where they were found.

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Spotted by

California, USA

Spotted on Jun 4, 2017
Submitted on Jun 11, 2017

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