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The Symbolism of Flies (Top 12 Meanings)

The Symbolism of Flies (Top 12 Meanings)

Flies are mysterious creatures carrying different meanings and symbolism in cultures and regions around the globe. While specific meanings might vary, depending on the region, they are commonly linked to decay, death, and transformation. Flies in some cultures also symbolize good fortune. 

These acrobatic insects are one of the earliest pollinators responsible for making plant life thrive. They exhibit many maneuvers and flight patterns, enabling them to survive even in the harshest environments. 

Let’s read about common fly symbolism, its meaning, and how flies are symbolized around different cultures.

Flies symbolize transformation, fertility, determination, perseverance, strength, bravery, effort, death, decay, and evil.

Indication of a Threat

Flies are known to spoil food items by releasing bodily fluids when they set foot on the consumable. Their disease-spreading nature indicates a threat nearby, and you must stay vigilant to tackle the incoming danger. [1]

Fly on wood.
Photo by Jin Yeong Kim on Unsplash

Trust Issues

These fast-flying insects are perfect imitators and can make buzzing sounds like bees or wasps. This deceptive trait to ward off predators is linked to lies and gossip, and their appearance indicates being cautious of the people you trust

In contrast, the same scenario can also mean you are guilty of committing these actions and should refrain from them. [1]


Flies can thrive in the harshest of environments and act as a reminder to overcome adversity. 

They portray the values of determination, perseverance, and constant effort, as a sign to keep going until we can fully achieve what we desire. The fly’s attributes of flexibility and resilience are a message to stay determined and face and overcome challenges to achieve prosperity. [2]

Transformation and Change

Often, flies are linked to death, making them a symbol of transformation. They can be seen hovering over rotten food and dead carcasses in the wild. Catching them in real life is also linked to a bad omen like suffering from an illness or losing material possessions like money. [2]

Staying Motivated

On the brighter side, flies symbolize motivation as they thrive in harsh environments, stay determined to feed themselves and relish a brief moment of joy. This behavior implies using strength to one’s leverage and remaining committed to achieving what one hopes for. [3]

Macro close up of fly.
Image by Virvoreanu Laurentiu from Pixabay

Spiritual Meaning

Flies are appealing spirit animals that bring meaningful insights into the spirit world. Their persistence in feeding themselves reminds them to stay steadfast and avail of every opportunity. 

Since changes are a part of life, flies show us how to be flexible and adapt. Besides indicating change and transformation, they also direct us to stay calm and persistent, no matter what life throws at us. [3]

Symbolism and Meanings in Different Cultures

Now that we’ve covered some common symbolisms and meanings of flies, let’s review how different cultures around the globe symbolize them. 

The East

Eastern culture connects flies to death, wrongdoing, and evil. 

Like the Christian depiction of Negral, Eastern mythology depicts this evil Mesopotamian God of death, destruction, and plague with a fly. Likewise, the Hopi tribe in the East links the fly to fertility and is even depicted as a helping spirit. 

In Asian regions, flies are seen as a vessel carrying restless souls. Many people will even offer them fermented rice, trying to make the troubled soul happy and move on to the afterlife. [4]

Native America

For many native tribes and cultures thriving in North America, flies symbolize dark magic, disease, and plague. In contrast, the Southwest regions see them as messengers. 

For example, in the Navajo tribes, the fly is considered a messenger bringing messages directly from their ancestors. [4]

Celtic Regions

In Celtic mythology, the appearance of flies is rare. However, another insect, the maggot, is repeatedly symbolized. 

Maggot on bark at night, illuminated from the top. Close up shot, selective focus, shallow depth of field.
Maggot on bark at night

Maggots possess similar attributes to flies, like laying their eggs inside decaying food and thriving on rotten vegetation. These critters are used in Celtic mythology and folklore as a sign of decay.   


The meaning and symbolism of flies in ancient Egyptian texts and mythology are evident. While Celtic mythology revered the fly as a symbol of death, the Egyptians linked it to bravery and determination.

These flying creatures were also considered a connection to the afterlife, as flies would start laying eggs inside dead bodies during mummification. The priests believed the eggs hatching inside the body and fly coming out before the completion of the embalming process was a sign that the soul was leaving the body. 

The priests crafted fly-shaped amulets from different materials as they believed these pendants and charms would assist the soul in connecting with the body. The hieroglyphs were used to represent perseverance, strength, and bravery. [4]


Several flies in mythologies and folklore are connected to the insect, but most appearances are negative. For example, the Roman and Greek mythologies depict flies as a nuisance and a tormenting medium for the innocent. Greeks also link flies with the disease. 

Fly on wooden arm.
Photo by Simon John-McHaffie on Unsplash

The Sardinian regions have stories connecting flies to an apocalypse. In Norse mythology, a famous god, Loki, is depicted as turning into a fly when performing his trickery on his enemies. [5]

Lastly, Hindu mythology has no clear symbolism of flies except for a swarm of flies that can symbolize that rain is coming. 

Fly Symbolism and Linked Omens

Flies in some cultures and folklore represent death, disease, danger, and decay. Seeing a swarm of flies is a bad omen, signifying upcoming turmoil and potential risk. 

Close up of housefly.
Close-up image of a housefly.
Image by Ronny Overhate from Pixabay

They can also represent stagnation. As flies are attracted to dead and decaying things, seeing one can mean you are stuck in your daily routine while the goals you want to achieve are slowly deteriorating. 

Some cultures even believe that flies in a household indicate that relationship issues can arise if they are not appropriately addressed. [5]


While the fly’s meaning and symbolism are complex and have negative connotations, they also carry positive messages. These creatures can bring messages of hope, get warning messages, and help you tackle challenges and difficult situations. 

No matter the circumstances, there is always hope and transformation if enough effort is put into achieving the set goals.