What Do Maggots Eat?

Prime maggot food when rotten.
Prime maggot food when rotten. (Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Javier Lastras)

The diet of maggots may at first seem disturbing, and even something of a nuisance. However, medical studies show the possibility of productive, healthful uses of maggots in the future.

What do Maggots Eat?

Maggots eat rotting meat, no matter where it is located. They do not eat any flesh that is still alive.

What are Maggots?

Maggots are the small, white, worm-like larvae of flies. Flies lay their eggs in rotting meat so larvae have a ready food source upon hatching. They start out small, about the size of grains of rice, but quickly grow larger as they eat almost continuously.

Maggots in Modern Medicine

The University of York performed a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2009 that found that maggots can clean wounds faster than conventional treatment. However, this did not seem to affect the overall healing time or quality for patients.

Why Maggot Medicine Works

Since maggots do not eat living flesh, but are ravenous, they can clean dead flesh away very quickly. When they have run out of food, they eat each other rather than attacking living flesh.


The study notes the possibility that maggot therapy could be helpful in cases such as skin grafts, where speed of getting patients into surgery is of the essence. However, its potential needs to be explored fully through further clinical trials.

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