What Causes Maggots in Trash Can? The Unsolved Mystery.

Trash cans are an essential part of our lives, be it at home or in a public setting. They help us keep our surroundings clean and hygienic. However, as much as we try to keep them clean, they tend to attract maggots, which can be a nightmare. Maggots are the larvae stage of flies and are commonly found in trash cans. This article discusses the unsolved mystery of what causes maggots in trash cans.

The Life Cycle of a Fly

Before we discuss what causes maggots in trash cans, it’s essential to understand the life cycle of a fly. Flies go through four stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The eggs are usually laid on decaying organic matter, such as garbage, manure, or rotting fruits and vegetables.

The Larval Stage

After hatching from the egg, the larvae, commonly known as maggots, feed on the decaying organic matter surrounding them. They molt several times during their development before pupating. The length of time spent in the larval stage varies depending on the temperature and the species of the fly.

The Pupal Stage

After the larval stage, the fly enters the pupal stage. During this phase, the pupa remains inactive, and the organism develops within a protective casing. It will stay in the pupal stage from a few days to several weeks, depending on the species and environmental conditions.

The Adult Stage

The final stage in the life cycle of a fly is the adult stage. After emerging from the pupa, the adult fly will need to feed on liquids to gain the energy required to mate and lay eggs. Once they’ve fed, they will mate and start the cycle all over again.

What Causes Maggots in Trash Cans?

Now that we’ve discussed the life cycle of flies let’s dive into the causes of maggots in trash cans. There are several reasons why maggots are attracted to trash cans.

Warmth and Moisture

Maggots thrive in warm and moist environments, making trash cans a perfect breeding ground. When trash cans are left in the sun or are placed in areas with high humidity levels, it creates a favorable environment for flies to lay their eggs, which then hatch into maggots.

Open Trash Cans

Trash cans that are left open provide easy access for flies to lay their eggs. Flies can detect the odor of decaying organic matter, and an open trash can will allow them to deposit their eggs, which develop into maggots.

Rotting Organic Matter

Maggots feed on decaying organic matter, such as food scraps, fruits, and vegetables. If these items are not disposed of properly, they can attract flies, which will lay their eggs, resulting in the growth of maggots.

Location of Trash Can

The location of the trash can is also a significant factor in attracting flies and maggots. Trash cans that are placed near doors, windows, or vents provide easy access for flies to enter and lay their eggs. The same goes for trash cans that are placed in areas with high foot traffic.

Preventing Maggots in Trash Cans

Preventing maggots in trash cans requires consistent effort and diligence. There are several measures you can take to prevent maggot infestations in your trash cans.

Regular Cleaning

Cleaning your trash can regularly is essential to prevent maggot growth. Use soap and water to clean the interior of the trash can, and do not forget to scrub the lid and any other areas where food debris may accumulate.

Seal Trash Bags Properly

Properly sealing trash bags prevents flies from laying their eggs in the trash. Make sure that the bags are tied tightly, and there are no holes through which flies can enter.

Keep Trash Cans in the Shade

Placing trash cans in a shaded area or keeping them indoors can limit exposure to heat and humidity, reducing the likelihood of maggots growing.

Freezing Food Scraps

Freezing food scraps until the day of the trash pickup can prevent them from becoming a breeding ground for maggots. This method can also be used if you don’t have a compost bin.

What to Do if You Have Maggot-Infested Trash Cans?

If you have maggot-infested trash cans, there are several steps you can take to get rid of them.

Remove the Trash

First, remove all the trash from the can and place it in sealed trash bags. Do not forget to tie the bags tightly so that the flies cannot access the contents and lay their eggs.

Clean the Trash Can

After emptying the trash, use warm soapy water to clean the trash can thoroughly. Make sure to scrub all surfaces, including the lid and any other areas where residue or food debris may have accumulated.

Use Vinegar or Bleach

After washing the can, rinse the interior with a 50:50 mixture of water and vinegar or diluted bleach. This will help to disinfect the can and remove any lingering odors.

Dry the Can

Drying the can thoroughly after cleaning is essential, as any moisture remaining in the can will create a favorable environment for maggot growth. Allow the can to dry completely before placing any new trash inside.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. Can maggots be harmful?
  • A. Maggots in themselves are not harmful. However, they can attract other pests, such as rats and mice, that can be harmful to humans.

  • Q. Can maggots survive in cold temperatures?
  • A. Maggots cannot survive in cold temperatures. Freezing food scraps and placing trash cans in shaded areas can help prevent maggot infestations.

  • Q. How long do maggots take to develop?
  • A. The length of time maggots take to develop varies depending on the temperature and the species of the fly. In warm environments, maggots can develop into adult flies in as little as seven days.

  • Q. Can maggots get inside a house?
  • A. Maggots can get inside a house if they are attracted to decaying organic matter inside or near the house.

  • Q. How can I prevent maggots from growing in my trash can?
  • A. Preventing maggots in trash cans requires consistent effort and diligence. Measures such as regular cleaning, proper trash bag disposal, and keeping trash cans in shade can reduce the likelihood of maggots growing.


Maggots in trash cans can be a nuisance, but they are a natural part of the environment. The best way to manage them is to prevent their growth by keeping your trash can clean and properly sealed. By following the tips discussed in this article, you can help prevent maggot infestations in your trash cans.


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