If it buzzes, it’s a bother. While hornets might have the strongest sting, bot flies are probably the scariest as they are one of the rare species that become parasites to humans.
Bot flies, also known as warble flies, heel flies, gadflies, are in the family of Oestridae and Dermatobia hominis is the name of the species that latches onto humans, and it has a couple of pretty disturbing tricks up her sleeve to do that. Fortunately, this small, hairy fly is found only in Central and South America, and can be countered with some everyday items and knowledge.
The way that bot flies parasitize deer, oxen and humans is a sneaky one as it uses a mediator. After mating, the female bot fly finds other insects like mosquitoes, ticks or other flies and attach their fertilized eggs to them. Then, like in some creepy sci-fi movie, the flies stay dormant until a mosquito or a tick comes in contact with a warm-blooded host (meaning you) and then pop up and burrow into the host’s skin through the bite or hair follicle.
The aspect that causes the most problems is that they anchor themselves pretty hard and it’s almost impossible to remove them by amateurs, so they stay there sucking blood and enlarging the bump which sometimes secretes pus. Probably the most disturbing part of encountering the bot fly is that the hosts can sometimes feel them moving, or even see them through the hole they went into.
So for those that didn’t stop reading after finding out the horrific scheme of nature and have just decided never to travel to Central and South America, or leave the house if they already live there, there is no need to despair as their latching onto humans is extremely rare. They can be repelled and removed if you know the tricks, and some of them include bacon!
Repelling bot flies
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best solutions, and that’s the way in this case as a bug spray that deters mosquitos and ticks can do the trick. Just rub it on all the exposed skin and especially the neck. One of the more natural, home remedies is to eat a lot of peppers as the enzymes excreted through your skin are loathsome to the parasites, but obviously, it’s not a foolproof method. If you’re going into an area that is heavily infested with bot flies it would be wise to wear appropriate clothes like long sleeve shirts, long pants and don’t forget to check your skin for bites at the end of the day.
Removing bot flies
Although most of us get the chills while thinking about an insect living and feeding inside of us, entomologist and wildlife photographer Piotr Naskrecki allowed two human bot fly larvae to reach maturity under his skin and documented the process for a short film. And they usually feed between five and 10 weeks. So if you’re not an entomologist film enthusiast you will want to get rid of the pests as soon as possible.
It’s imperative you don’t try to simply pull it out as the parasite can burst leaving pieces behind in the hole and cause an infection. There is a genius way to how you can do it, and it’s the strangest use for bacon ever. The idea behind it is to cut off the air supply to the larva and to offer it a tasty dish – another piece of meat that it can attach to. But if there are conditions, bot fly maggots are of course best removed by doctors through surgery.
Photo credit: Wikimedia