The botfly larvae
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Saturday July 6, 2019

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Note the “hooks” that hold it in place!

Almost ready to be expelled from host.
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Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Off the southern tip of Ambergris Caye is Belize's oldest marine reserve, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The   reserve focuses on a cut through the reef which is little more than 25 yards wide and 30 feet deep about 4 miles southeast of San Pedro. The reserve was formed primarily as a community-based initiative due to concern over the high level of uncontrolled, often destructive fishing and diving activities in the area, and because of  the unique formation of the channel, the abundant fishery resources (including conch and lobster) and the feasibility of including an interlinked system of coral reef, seagrass and mangrove habitats in this area.
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The botfly larvae

Top photo: Size - adult and juvenile larvae.

One of the really cool things about a botfly is that it lays its eggs on a mosquito and the eggs hatch when the mosquito feeds on a host. Do humans get warbles? Yes, (are you disgusted yet)?

While the maggot feeds on its host (you or one of your pets) it has to have a hole in the skin so it can continue to breath. It takes about 6 weeks to complete development on its host.

If you treat (kill it) when the worm is small, your body will absorb it. If it has developed when treated, it will die and you can squeeze it out a day or two after the hooks have relaxed.

Tiger Balm can be found in Belize at most stores- I would recommend just dabbing a bit over any fly bite you receive. Generally that eliminates the itch, etc. and helps not to make your body into a host!

And if you are fortunate enough to be a host - enjoy the science lesson!

Not up to that? Locate the breathing hole and cover it with a little tobacco or heavily camphorated oil soaked cotton - tape over vent hole - the worm comes out - 12 hours later pull off the tape - voila - one grub, maybe two or three-- no infection -- everything ok!

Source of botfly worm? My dog who is currently glaring at me in a corner but who no longer has any parasites hidden under the skin!

For more information on bot flies, click here!

Photographs and text by Michelle D de Gonzalez

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