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Dermatobia hominis, bot fly, botfly, Oestridae, Gasterophilus intestinalis, D. hominis, jungle, rainforest, archaeology, archaeologists, biology, biologist, herpatologist


Human bot fly (Dermatobia hominis) adapted from Wikipedia.

Human bot fly
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Suborder: Brachycera
Family: Cuterebridae
Subfamily: Cuterebrinae
Genus: Dermatobia
Species: D. hominis
Binomial name
Dermatobia hominis
(Linnaeus, 1781)

The genus Dermatobia contains only one species, D. hominis, the only botfly species that attacks humans and other primates. These botflys are also known as the torsalo.

How do Archaeologists and Biologists get botfly's?


In this species the fly's eggs are vectored by mosquitoes and muscoid flies; the female Dermatobia captures the mosquito and attaches its eggs to the body of it, then releases it. The eggs hatch either while the mosquito is feeding and the larvae may use the mosquito bite area as the entry point, or simply drop off the muscoid fly when it lands on the skin. They develop inside the subcutaneous layers, and after approximately 8 weeks they drop out to pupate for at least a week, typically in the soil. The adults are small gray flies resembling a blowfly.

Remember to use that insect repellent to keep these buggers off!

This species is native to the New World tropics, though it is not abundant enough (nor harmful enough) to ever attain true pest status. Since the fly larvae can only survive the entire eight week development if the wound does not become infected, it is rare for patients to experience infections, unless they kill the larva without removing it completely . It is even possible that the fly larva may itself produce antibiotic secretions that help prevent infection while it is feeding.

Botfly Remedies


The botfly maggot cannot be removed easily while it is still alive due to the strong, hooked spines that run in circular rings around the midsection of its body. However, various solutions have been suggested:

Immediate contact
with alcohol can kill the larvae.
Note: If you fail to immediately contact the larvae with alchohol, then I suggest you pour yourself a fine alcoholic drink to try to neutralize it from the inside out. This has never been documented as being successful, but it is quite fun.

Recently, many physicians have discovered that venom extractor syringes can remove larvae with ease at any stage of growth. As these devices are a common component of first-aid kits to deal with snakebites, this is effectively the final solution. Be sure to clean the wound after extraction!

Some people have reported success simply by careful application of pressure - but this approach runs a very high risk of killing the larva in situ, leading to infection.
I personally choose to suffocate the grub by sealing off the air hole found in the surrounding blister. This can be done with nail polish, or a similar substance. I usually wait one full day to make sure the botfly larvae is completely dead before extracting. This way I can be sure it is completely removed.

In general, then, simply allowing the larva to develop and leave the body on its own is the safest and least risky course of action OUCH!, though few people are willing to wait that long, especially if the larva is lodged in an uncomfortable or unsightly location. I know archaeologists Mark Willis tried to allow one to develop but finally gave up and killed the little bastard botfly.

Real Archaeologists Have Had A Botfly

Real Archaeologists Have Had A Botfly
Real archaeologists have had a botfly (bot fly, Dermatobia hominis). They might look nasty, ok, they are nasty, but after you have had one you can call yourself a real archaeologists.

Real Archaeologists Have Had A Bot Fly

Real Archaeologists Have Had A Bot Fly
Real Archaeologists Have Had A Bot Fly and now you can let people know you have earned your stripes! If you have had one of these nasty little botflies then you know you have earned the right to wear

Real Biologists Have Had A Botfly

Real Biologists Have Had A Botfly
Share the love (not!) of botflies with your biology peers.

Got Botfly (bot fly, Dermatobia hominis)

Got Botfly (bot fly, Dermatobia hominis)
Had a botfly? Show the world you have what it takes to deal with these pesky little botfly larvae.


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