Bluebottle Flies, Biodegradability and Urban Matter

The trophic ecologies of cities play a distinct role in how urban matter—and particularly urban waste matter—biodegrades. Insects are key participants in eating, breaking down and “recycling” refuse, and at the same time waste sites provide unique ecologies for insects. While first sketching a picture of the some of the distinct insect ecologies that may be found in urban waste sites, in this presentation I then examined the “work” of one particular insect, the blue bottle fly (Calliphora vicina) in breaking down urban wastes. This fly, a synanthrope, thrives alongside humans and makes use of their habitats. I considered in what ways the contributions of this “pest” species to biodegradability inform urban material processes.

This talk was presented along with a menu and film screening as part of the “Insect City” event hosted by Urban Laboratory, University College of London,  25th October 2011 (held at Fritz Haeg’s “Animal Estates” exhibition at Arup Phase 2 Gallery).

Image: still from film, “The House Fly” (Musca domestica)