What Are Botflies?
Botflies are commonly known as gadflies, heel flies, and warble flies. They belong to the Oestridae family of flies, and their larvae are popular to infect mammals. This is because the larvae are known to be internal parasites of mammals, and some of their species also grow up the flesh of their host. Some of them also reside in the host’s gut. As far as humans are concerned, only Dermatobia hominis will infest them, while some species of botfly will lead to myiasis in human beings.
Adult botflies are highly likely to grow 12mm to 18mm in length and are likely to have different colors when it comes down to appearance. For the most part, they have a yellow face, while the abdomen has a metallic blue color. In addition, they are fully covered in hair and orange legs which is why they look like bumblebees. Their eggs are oval and have a creamy color. In addition, they are attached to the blood-feeding insects that are captured by the female flies.
The eggs are attached to the body’s ventral side and hatch when the egg-carrying insect starts blood-feeding on their warm-blooded host. When they grow into larvae, they go through three phases once they get into their host. With each phase, they create a unique appearance. First of all, they have a worm-like appearance with a bulbous end, while the second form has a bottle-neck shape overall. Lastly, in the third phase, they grow into a cylinder shape.
Understanding the Human Botfly: Biology, Hosts, and Impact on Humans
However, during all these phases, they have projecting spines in the backward form that tends to encircle around the thorax. It wouldn’t be wrong to say botflies are the evolved family of myiasis-causing insects. They are tested into four subfamilies. However, they can be differentiated by their changes in the spiracular openings and overall appearance. As far as the maggots are concerned, they have a grub-like appearance and look thick, and have robust form.
It is important to add that they are different from other producers of myiasis because the adult flies don’t consume nutrients or feed on them. They usually have nonfunctional and rudimentary mouthparts, which means they cannot feed. Also, even if they have functional mouthparts, they will only consume water because they need to maintain a fluid balance. Moreover, they have a higher degree of specificity when it comes down to choosing the host.
For the most part, humans aren’t the common hosts, but it doesn’t make them entirely safe either. In the cases where people are infested by these botflies, the pathology becomes extremely complicated. Their burrowing into the host will result in death or paralysis. On the other hand, if larvae reside in the warbles on their feet or around the eyes, the host will be limited in his capacity to see. As far as aggregating in exterior surroundings is concerned, they opt for the topographic areas for mating and pairing.
For the most part, they are seen on prominent trees and rocks, hilltops, steep slopes, streambeds, and cliff faces. As for the male botflies, they will remain at some of these sites, but the females leave their place in search of hosts, as soon as they mate.
Why Does Botfly Cluster Up In Your Home?
Honestly, the botflies don’t cluster up in the home because they are always infesting mammals and use humans as their hosts. This results in myiasis where the larvae of botflies infest humans, resulting in maggots in the body. For the most part, it’s a common issue within livestock, while human-based infestations are extremely rare when it comes down to the United States. However, the human infestation is more common in South America and Central America.
As for placing eggs on the human is concerned, it’s challenging for the larger-sized flies. For this reason, the botflies hijack the smaller mosquito and attach the eggs to the vector. When the mosquito is released, it flies around humans as it needs blood. So, when a mosquito lands on some animal or human for sucking up blood, the potential host’s body attracts the eggs due to the body temperature, resulting in the hatching of eggs.
Then, these hatched larvae will stay on the host and end up residing inside their tissues. In some cases, these flies aim for eyes to lay their eggs, resulting in ocular myiasis. This condition is common among people employed to work on cattle farms, particularly in underdeveloped countries. The larvae take a few months to grow into a bigger size, and it eventually emerges from the tissue and settles on the ground, where it transforms into an adult botfly, and the cycle just repeats.
If you are thinking about the symptoms of having the botfly infestation, it all begins with a nodule that keeps seeping pus and blood because the larva needs the wound to be open to ensure it keeps breathing. It can result in serve pain and itching, especially when they move inside your body. Not to forget, it can always result in a bacterial infection.
How To Get Rid Of Botfly?
if you are contemplating that a botfly has infested your body, you need to look for the following symptoms;
- Wound formation on the skin will be coupled with mild swelling and redness
- The bloody and yellowish fluid will be released from the skin’s sores
- A sensation that something is moving under the skin
- Severe itching and pain around the wound
In most cases, the diagnosis will be done by an infectologist or a dermatologist. As far as the removal is concerned, it is important to ensure that the larva is dead, or else the smaller fragments will be left inside the body. Make sure that you go to a physician for this job, but some people tape the wound and leave for an hour (it will suffocate the larva, and they will come out).
You can also apply pressure to ensure it sticks to the tape. However, once the larva is removed, it is essential to opt for an antibiotic ointment to ensure there is no further infection. Keep in mind that all these procedures should be done by a doctor because they have specialized tweezers and can even perform minor surgery if needed. Now, let’s check out how you can prevent these infestations;
- Make sure that the doors and windows of your home are always closed, especially during the night
- It is better to use nets on the windows
- Don’t let the food and water accumulate in the indoor settings
- Whenever going out, use the mosquito repellent
- If you are living in the tropical region, make sure that you iron your clothes
Where Does Botfly Come From?
The botflies are native to South America and Central America. It doesn’t seem to have the disease-causing transmission of pathogens, but its infestation can be challenging. This is because they infest the mammal’s or human’s skin and live through the larval stage, resulting in painful pits that keep seeping pus and blood.
Will Botfly Sting Or Bite Me?
Well, they do more than sting and bite, as we have already mentioned. However, when they have infested your body, there will be intense pain and itching around the infected area, and you might even feel something stirring inside your skin. In the majority of cases, they attack deer, humans, and livestock.
How Bad Is The Infestation Of A Botfly?
The infestation can be pretty severe, especially when you don’t remove the larva on time. This is because they take a few months to grow into adults and become extremely painful. However, they create nodules that keep seeping with pus and blood, resulting in an extremely painful experience.
Are Botflies Destructive?
Yes, it is destructive, but not for infrastructure. This is because they harm livestock and humans. Also, when they are removed from the body, they leave behind a hole which creates higher risks of infections. This is why having a botfly infestation is extremely dangerous.
Does Botfly Get Attracted To Water?
Botflies are not usually attracted to water because they are only attracted to the human body or mammal skin for living out their larval stage.
How To Get Rid Of Botfly Infestation?
The only treatment or way of getting rid of their infestation is getting them removed. In some cases, tweezers do the job, but there are times when you might have to undergo minor surgery. If you are considering using ointments and popping in pills, they are not effective methods.
Why Are Botfly Bad?
The botflies are bad because they can infest the human skin and cause nodules that just keep seeping. In addition, their infestation can be extremely painful for the host. On the other hand, if they infest livestock, it results in economic damage and loss of the animal since it creates an infection.
Stephen has been studying entomology for years, which capacitates him to provide accurate information that you can trust. He uses his years of experience and knowledge to write blogs and articles that help the audience.