Let's say that I have 4 features classe:

  • Layer1
  • Layer2
  • Layer3
  • Layer4

I want to erase my LayerX with all the LayerYwhere Y<X. So for example the erase feature for the Layer3 will be Layer2 and Layer1.

I'm using the function Erase_analysis.

Erase_analysis (in_features, erase_features, out_feature_class)

I don't want to create tousand of new layers, so during my iteration I try to use the same input name and output name.

My code using arcpy:

arcpy.env.overwriteOutput = True

for x in n:
    for y in n[:(x-1)]:
        arcpy.Erase_analysis('layer'+str(x), 'layer'+str(y), 'layer'+str(x))

But, and it was expected, the python consol give me this error

Output Feature Class is same as Input Features, Failed to execute (Erase).

Is there a solution using arcpy ?

Is there a more pythonic way to solve this problem ?


2 Answers 2


Copying your input to in_memory, prior to using Erase, should work:

for x in n:
    for y in n[:(x-1)]:
        arcpy.CopyFeatures_management('layer'+ str(x), "in_memory\layer" + str(x))
        arcpy.Erase_analysis("in_memory\layer" + str(x), 'layer'+ str(y), 'layer'+ str(x))

You can use arcpy.Delete_management to delete the input after the erase. I also think merging the erasefeatures prior to erase will speed everything up:

import arcpy

arcpy.env.workspace = r'C:\database.gdb'
arcpy.env.overwriteOutput = 1
featurelist = arcpy.ListFeatureClasses()

for feature in featurelist:
    mergelist=[i for i in featurelist if int(i[-1])<int(feature[-1])]
    arcpy.Merge_management(inputs=mergelist, output=r'in_memory\merge')
    arcpy.Erase_analysis(in_features=feature, erase_features=r'in_memory\merge', 

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