Living With Human Bot Flies

argylesock says… I have to reblog this post because I once had a bot fly larva (Dermatobia hominis) in my leg. It makes a great story for students who consider becoming parasitologists. Ask nicely and I’ll show you the scar where the doctor cut it out.

Living With Insects Blog

Human Bot Flies are occasionally encountered by tourists to Central and South America. Bot fly larvae will burrow under the skin and feed on the tissue. Bot flies on the head are confined from burrowing deep into the tissue by the skull. The larva rests near the surface with a breathing tube exposed to the air to breathe oxygen. Bot fly larvae are difficult to extract because of spines on the abdomen that anchor larvae in the flesh. Techniques for removing the larvae typically involve covering the breathing tube to partially asphyxiate the larvae, causing it to remove its spines and reposition itself. A skilled doctor can grasp the retreating larva with forceps.

Substances used to asphyxiate the larvae include petroleum jelly, bacon and fingernail polish. Bacon fat suffocates the larva and provides it with an alternate tissue. A larva leaving the head may burrow in the bacon instead. Bacon…

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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6 Responses to Living With Human Bot Flies

  1. Littlesundog says:

    I have seen these bot fly larva in the heads of deer. Fairly gross to see, and a bit disturbing to know they feed on human tissue as well.

  2. Daniel Digby says:

    What a lovely concept. I, too, have had the wonderful experience of seeing the non-human variety ot these marvels of God’s creation in horses and cattle.

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