Expert removal of a botfly larva (beef worm)
Don't panic if you're unlucky enough to get a botfly larva under your skin during a visit to Belize. They can be extracted simply and painlessly. Here's advice on how to do it from an expert.
Monster "Alien" Human Bot Fly Removal
A family vacation in Belize in December 2008....... Nightmare for one family member...
Two weeks after returning from an otherwise wonderful vacation, he begins to develop a 102 degree fever which lasts for two weeks. He experiences random bleeding from three small, infected wounds on his left elbow. He sees four different internists and after two rounds of antibiotics is still suffering from the symptoms. It turns out that he had three bot fly larvae growing in his arm. This video shows the removal of the larvae.
Bot flies (Order Diptera, Family Cuterebridae) are large, stout bodied, hairy flies that resemble bumblebees. The botfly egg is deposited by a mosquito or sometimes by another insect. The larva grows in the host's body until it is fairly large. The botfly larva can easily be killed by taking away its air supply -- by putting vaseline or similar on the skin where the lump is, but then you still have to extract the larva. Adult botflies have nonfunctional mouthparts and do not feed. Larvae of this species parasitize wild and domestic rabbits. Females deposit their eggs in or near the entrance of their host's burrow. Bot fly larvae penetrate their host through the skin or natural body openings after hatching. The larvae form a tumor (called a warble) in the subdermal zones of their host and remain at this location until larval development is complete. Larval development varies among species, ranging from 20 to 60 days. Before pupating, the larvae leave the host's skin and drop to the soil.
Watch revolting moment maggot emerges from insect researcher's skin - having been kept there ON PURPOSE
Entomologist wanted to know what it felt like to produce another 'living, breathing being' from his own flesh.
An insect researcher has purposefully reared fly maggots inside his body, and filmed the moment they crawled out of his skin.
Piotr Naskrecki is an entomologist and photographer from Harvard University, who was bitten by mosquitoes on a photography trip to Belize in the summer of 2014.
When he got back, he had three bits that weren't healing. It turn out that these weren't regular mosquito bites: they contained the larvae of the botfly.
Bot flies - which don’t have their own jaws, so can't bite or sting - have to rely on mosquitoes to get their eggs into a living host.
Once the eggs are inside a living body, they start to develop into a maggot which grows barbs to grip the flesh around it to make it difficult to extract.
A bot fly next to a maggot
Naskrecki removed one of the maggots using a suction device usually used for extracting snake venom, but decided to leave the other two inside his body to "mature".
"I figured that being a male it was my only chance to produce another living, breathing being out of my flesh and blood," he explains.
Thankfully he decided to create a fascinating (and revolting) video of the entire process - called The Human Bot Fly. (see post just below this one)
It took 2 months for the larvae to reach the point when they were ready to emerge. At this point, they start to wriggle their way out of the flesh in a process that takes around 40 minutes.
"It was not painful - the bot fly larvae produce painkillers," he adds.
The gaping hole left by the maggot healed within around 48 hours.
Naskrecki then put the larva inside a container with some earth, where it started the pupation process - in which it turns into fly.
The hole left by the bot fly healed within 48 hours
After 6 weeks, the adult bot fly - slightly smaller than a honey bee - emerged from its casing.
"It's handsome and harmless to humans. It cannot sting or bite," he explains.
"I don't want you to think that [the process] is 'creepy' or 'weird'," says a hopeful Naskrecki.
"It is simply a documentation of an interesting organism, who happens to develop in the skin of large mammals."
The Human Bot Fly
Raising two dipteran children was an interesting experience. It was embarrassing on a few occasions, when both of my arms started bleeding profusely in public; painful at times, to the point of waking me up in the middle of the night; and inconvenient during the last stages of the flies’ development, when I had to tape plastic containers to my arms to make sure that I will not lose the emerging larvae. But other than those minor discomforts it was really not a big deal. Perhaps my opinion would have been different had the bot flies decided to develop in my eyelids, but I actually grew to like my little guests, and watched their growth with the same mix of pleasure and apprehension as when I watch the development of any other interesting organism under my care.
Having two bot fly larvae embedded in my skin have also made me ponder once again the perplexing element of the human psyche that makes us abhor parasites but revere predators. Why is it that an animal that is actively trying to kill us, such as a lion, gets more respect than one that is only trying to nibble on us a little, without causing much harm? I strongly suspect that it has to do with our genetically encoded sense of “fairness” – we perceive parasites as sneaky and underhanded, whereas predators attack us head-on and thus expose themselves to our retaliation. They are brave, or so we think. This, of course, is a very naive and anthropomorphic interpretation of nature. A lion is no “braver” than a bot fly, who has to skillfully hunt mosquitos to assure the dispersal of her eggs and risk more dangers than a lion, a top predator with no natural enemies. Most importantly, to a bot fly we, humans, are a renewable resource – it is in the bot fly’s best interest that we live a very long life and thus can be “reused” – hence the minimum amount of suffering that this species causes. To a lion we are nothing more than a one-time meal. But we should not judge either species for their actions – there is no “good” or “bad” in nature – nature is amoral.
I am saying this to prepare you for a short video that I made about my experience of raising a bot fly. I don’t want you to think that it is “creepy” or “weird”. It is simply a documentation of an interesting organism, who happens to develop in the skin of large mammals. But please be forewarned that this video includes a few sequences that some viewers may find disturbing. If you don’t want to have nightmares about things living inside you (which they already do, by the way), please don’t watch it. But if you are prepared to be open-minded and appreciate God’s wonderful creations in all their amazing glory, enjoy the show!