Those who fear getting eaten alive by creepy, disgusting, and terrifying parasites will be mortified to hear what the maggot-like botfly larvae can do to a human body.
Despite having a short life cycle, these insects have a vicious and ruthless habit of burrowing inside human or animal flesh until they are mature enough to pop out and go about the rest of their lives.
Those who have been attacked by these icky monsters have described experiencing pain and feeling movements inside their bodies. The larvae feed on their hosts until they get fat and attain a length of over one inch.
When in the body, they often cause intense and shooting recurring pain.
Botflies Look Innocent, But Botfly Larvae Are Not
Adult botfly females find various hosts for their eggs, and humans are no exception. The adult insects look innocent enough, and they have equally harmless names like heel fly and gadfly.
They look a lot like bumblebees. The main difference is that they don't offer anything sweet but instead spread their parasitic larvae to unsuspecting animals.
The insects lay many eggs, hatching parasitic larvae that live off warm-blooded animals. The eggs are oval-shaped and cream-colored.
Adult flies live for about 9 to 12 days. In fact, due to their short lifespan, they don't even have functional mouthparts.
So, they never feed, and their main reason for existence is reproduction before they die of starvation.
Botfly Females Seek Carriers For Their Eggs, Which Hatch Into Botfly Larvae
Strangely, adult botflies don't lay the eggs directly on the hosts but instead use carriers like mosquitoes or other flies. The female grabs the mosquito mid-air and attaches the eggs to the insect using a sticky substance.
When mosquitoes are not available, they use ticks and vegetation. After the mosquitoes land on warm-blooded hosts, the eggs hatch and fall to the animal's skin.
The larvae then burrow under the skin using the wound the mosquito has made. They can also use the hair follicles or other openings on the skin.
The larvae live inside the host's body until they are mature enough. The larvae can live in the host for up to three months.
They use hooked mouthparts to make a breathing hole that ensures that they can stay alive inside the host.
During this time, they eat, grow, and cause inflammation in the area affected. The proteins and debris that develop after the body part gets inflamed become their food.
Since the larva molts several times as it grows, the molted material becomes part of its meal. Therefore, these creatures are quite gross.
Botfly larvae need to burrow into other animals to survive. Fortunately, despite their scary grossness, the larvae are not deadly when they invade a host.
Once the larva leaves, the area often heals entirely after a few days or weeks. After they emerge from their burrows, they start the next stage of their lives.
What Happens When Botfly Larvae Get Inside The Human Skin
Unfortunately, removing botfly larvae from the body is never easy as they have two fangs and several tiny spines that make them difficult to withdraw from the flesh.
Once the botfly larvae are done living in the host's body, they emerge and enter into the pupa stage. At this point in its life, it does not feed but instead covers itself inside a cocoon and remains dormant, waiting to turn into an adult botfly.
These insects come in many forms, including horse botflies and rodent botflies. Some of the larvae can grow inside the animal's gut.
The human botfly is a terrifying botfly species as far as humans are concerned. Known as Dermatobia hominis, this is the only species known to attack humans.
These botflies are common in Central and South America. Many tourists to these regions have reported getting lumps that turned out to be botfly larvae burrows.
Sometimes, the larvae go beyond the skin and infect other tissues in the body. This can cause a lot of damage to the body.
Cases Of People Getting Infected With Botfly Larvae
Several people have told horror stories of their experiences with botfly larvae. For instance, a woman who was on a honeymoon in Belize discovered she had a skin lesion on her groin, and it took three different doctors before it was uncovered she had a botfly larva living inside her.
A different woman got infested while in Argentina. She could feel movements within her scalp, where the larva had burrowed.
After it died inside, she had to undergo surgery to have it removed.
When someone realizes that they have the botfly larva living in their body, the first step is to suffocate the creature before pulling it out. Covering the hole with petroleum jelly, nail polish, or bacon strips forces the larvae to find their way out to avoid suffocation.
Once that happens, usually, after several hours, the larva should be extracted using tweezers or a suction venom extractor. The experience is not very pleasant, and one victim compared it to the feeling of suddenly losing a bit of skin.
A 62-ear-old woman who went to the dermatologist with draining nodules on her back explained that she was experiencing biting sensations that got worse at night. She had been to Columbia, where she earned several mosquito bites.
It was also discovered she had got infected with botfly larvae. The doctor ended up removing six botfly larvae from her body.
The Man Who Let Botfly Larvae Live In His Body On Purpose
Although most people can't wait to be separated from this parasitic creature, a man did the complete opposite.
The researcher decided to let the two botfly larvae live under the skin until it was ready to pupate. Piotr Naskrecki did this out of scientific curiosity.
He also saw it as his chance to have another creature form in his body since he was a man. Piotr recorded the entire ordeal and shared it with everyone.
The experience was not very painful since the larvae produce painkillers that make their painful activities less painful. The research reported that the process in which the larvae emerged from the body after completing their larvae stage took around 40 minutes.
The larvae also produce antibiotic secretions that keep the area from suffering from an infection. That must have been the reason the wound healed in just 48 hours.
Shockingly, there is something even worse than having a botfly larva living in your body. Things get a lot more complicated when it gets trapped inside the body, which results in chronic burning pain.
The only advantage is that the larvae are not known to transmit any known disease-causing pathogens.