Just about everybody are aware of fruit flies and drain flies, and also common house flies; however, there is a fly that is often mistaken for a fruit fly because of its smaller size, and that is the coffin or humpbacked fly.

Coffin flies are usually about 1/16th to 1/8th inch in length, and the upper section of the rear leg is flattened and wide. Another identifying characteristic is that their back is shaped like a hump (humpbacked fly).

Coffin or Humpback Flies

Coffin or Humpback Flies

Coffin flies prefer to be in the caskets where they lay their eggs and the larvae can feed on the decomposing body. Their life cycle lasts about 2-6 weeks. Female coffin flies generally lay about 500 eggs in a lifetime. After feeding in the coffin, the larvae pupates, forming a cocoon in the casket, and finally emerges as an adult.

Coffin flies are susceptible to carrying and spreading diseases, because of what they are feeding on, and they are very unsanitary creatures. A number of mausoleums allow the infestations of coffin flies to happen, and a lot of the managers of these places are not forthright in telling their employees or visitors where the flies feed. Frequently, they will mislead families and their workers, telling them that the fresh flowers bring the flies; but if that were true, the flies would be infesting flower shops, not mausoleums.

If you visit a mausoleum and observe the coffin flies, register a written complaint with the mausoleum, in addition to with the Funeral Consumers Alliance, the Health Department, and the Attorney general. With regards to a Catholic Cemetery, register a complaint with the church and the local bishop.

Most recently, there have been a large amount of press regarding mismanagement and neglect at Arlington National Cemetery. On June 10, 2010, Army Secretary John McHugh held a press conference regarding the issues that have been exposed out of an investigation into unacceptable practices at Arlington. We only hope that remedies that are in place will be able to rectify the mistakes that were made at the cemetery, where more than 300,000 veterans have been interred from the Civil War up to the current war in Afghanistan.

Clarence E. Hill, the National Commander of the largest veterans group, said, “We are disturbed any time we hear that our nation’s heroes are treated in an undignified manner,” He also recognized Secretary McHugh for his “decisive action”. He went on to state, “The heroes at Arlington gave their all. We must not fail them. The American Legion offers its assistance to correct the problems.”

The Army inspector general, LTG R. Steven Whitcomb, produced a report on June 8th, that was the result of months of investigation. In it were identified 76 distinct deficiencies and 101 recommendations to improve operations at Arlington National Cemetery. The report found inadequate record-keeping allowed occupied grave sites to be improperly marked or often not marked in any way. “Secretary McHugh and I share the perspective that Arlington is in need of a state-of-the-art computer database to track grave sites. I am pleased to hear that efforts are underway to make such progress. The National Cemetery Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs already employs this type of records system, and Arlington needs one as well.”

The Army relieved Superintendent John Metzler of all authority, but he will remain on staff until his pending retirement on July 2nd . His deputy, Thurman Higgenbotham, was placed on administrative leave pending additional personnel measures. Both men have had long careers as Federal Civil Servants.

“A majority of these findings are deeply troubling and unacceptable,” McHugh told reporters At the June 10th Pentagon news conference. “The inspector general found Arlington’s mission hampered by dysfunctional management, by a lack of established policies and procedures and an overall unhealthy organizational environment.”

The report cited inappropriate interment on remains, including the losing of accountability for remains, names and graves listed as empty, he said. McHugh also cited improper maintenance and cleaning of graves. “That all ends today,” he said.

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