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The Botfly

Hi! I'm a friendly little pup, but I had something scary happen to me. A couple weeks ago I got bit by an insect. I didn't pay much attention until I developed a large swollen lump on my chest and it started to bother me. My hooman mom noticed it, and began to investigate. It looked like a pimple that needed to be popped, so she gave it a squeeze, and would you know A BABY INSECT CAME OUT!!

I am SO grossed out! My mom took me to the vet as soon as they opened to make sure I was ok and to show them the bug in a jar. They took a good look at my wound and said I was healing well, but I could tell they were all pretty grossed out by the baby insect, which they called a Botfly larvae. They cleaned me up nicely and sent me on my way!


The human botfly (Dermatobia hominis) belongs to a family of dipteran flies called Oestridae. Their larvae are parasitic in mammals, using the warm tissue as an incubator. Often the fly uses an intermediate host - the fertilized female botfly lays her eggs on the underside of a tick or mosquito, where the eggs remain attached until they sense the warmth of a mammal, hatch into a maggot, and drop off onto the animal. It crawls along until it finds an orifice to enter the body. Other times, eggs are laid on blades of grass in areas where mammals pass by frequently, and they inhale them while sniffing. It then migrates through the tissues until it arrives just below the skin surface, creating a lump called a warble. This can happen to dogs, cats, rodents, and even humans.

A way to identify a botfly infection is by finding the warble lump, and often a moving pupa can be seen through a little breathing hole at the top of the lump. Once they reach maturity, the maggot exits the skin and drops to the soil, where it finishes developing into a mature botfly. This disease season usually runs late summer to early fall.

The recommended treatment is anti-parasite medication, which will eliminate any other remaining botfly larvae in the body. Ongoing use of such medication can prevent further infestations.


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