The female lays her eggs as close to the food source as possible, and development is rapid, allowing the larva to consume as much food as possible in a short period of time before transforming into the adult. The eggs hatch immediately after being laid, or the flies are ovoviviparous, with the larva hatching inside the mother.
Larval flies, or maggots, have no true legs, and little demarcation between the thorax and abdomen; in the more derived species, the head is not clearly distinguishable from the rest of the body.
Maggots are limbless, or else have small prolegs. The eyes and antennae are reduced or absent, and the abdomen also lacks appendages such as cerci. This lack of features is an adaptation to a food-rich environment, such as within rotting organic matter, or as an endoparasite.
The pupae take various forms, and in some cases develop inside a silk cocoon. After emerging from the pupa, the adult fly rarely lives more than a few days, and serves mainly to reproduce and to disperse in search of new food sources.