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As their name suggests, the larvae of these flies feed on decaying materials such as plant matter and animal excrement. The adult flies are often found in the vicinity of these food resources and while at rest will often wave or flick their wings intermittently. They may be particularly common around livestock and the abundant fecal material available, and are considered to be important decomposers and recyclers of that waste material. Their presence in a home indicates the presence of some larval food resource that is a sanitation problem to be removed. Because of their association with animal wastes and other rotting materials they may be important as mechanical vectors of bacteria from those materials.
Control must focus on finding and removing the decomposing organic material that has drawn the flies to the structure. This may be rotting vegetation outdoors such as thick layers of mulch, pet waste in the yard, or other rotting vegetation. Indoors it may be a dead animal or garbage that has not been properly disposed of.