Animals

Wing-credible Botfly Facts For Kids

Amazing botfly facts are for kids to enjoy
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Botfly, also written as bot fly, is a bee-like insect of the Oestridae family. Botfly larvae are parasitic in nature and feed on warm-blooded mammals. After reaching the adult stage these flies have a bee-like appearance. A bot fly passes through four stages in its life cycle. These stages are larva, eggs, pupa, and adults. In each phase of the botfly life cycle, their appearance changes drastically. After reproduction, females produce hundreds of eggs. The oval-shaped egg of a bot fly is of cream color. After the eggs hatch, the botfly larvae pop out. The botfly larva or the botfly maggot is white in color. They go through three different instars and in each instar, their shape and size undergo distinctive transformations. In these instars, the larva starts to take the shape of the botfly's body. In the pupa stage, the anterior spiracles become prominent.  The bot flies dedicate most of their short lifespan towards reproductive activities. A botfly location ranges from the tropics of North to South, and Central America. The larva mainly attacks wound areas. It is believed that botflies do not face any immediate threat of extinction in the near future as plenty are available right now and their reproduction range is also very high. If you want to know more about a bot fly, then check out these exciting facts about the species.

For more similar content check out the articles on the leafcutter ant and the morpho butterfly too.

Botfly

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Living tissues of hosts

What do they eat?

Parasite

Average litter size?

300 - 1000

How much do they weigh?

N/A

How long are they?

0.4 in - 0.7 in (12 mm-18 mm)


How tall are they?

N/A


What do they look like?

Metallic bluish abdomen and yellow face

Skin Type

Hairy

What are their main threats?

N/A

What is their conservation status?

Not Listed

Where you'll find them

Tropics and subtropics

Locations

North, Central, and South America, Africa

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Insecta

Scientific Name

Human botfly- Dermatobia hominis Rodent botfly- Cuterebra cuniculi

Family

Oestridae

Genus

Dermatobia, Cuterebra

Botfly Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a botfly?

The botfly, also known as heel fly, warble fly, and garden fly is a type of fly in the Oestridae family. The larva of botflies are parasitic to mammals and cause myiasis infection.

What class of animal does a botfly belong to?

The botfly belongs to the class Insecta.

How many botflies are there in the world?

They travel by flying from place to place. It is next to impossible to keep a track of these small flying insects. The species of bot fly is native to north, central, and South America. They are endemic to the new world. There are approximately 70 species of the botfly. Among them, 40 species are found in North America. A combination of all these families and subfamilies constitutes the total population of botfly spread all around the world.

Where does a botfly live?

The botfly is believed to be a native of Central and South America. Some troops of these flies are also found in African regions. The botfly occurring in Africa are known as a tumbu fly. Apart from the central and the southern part of America, 40 species of botfly are also endemic to North America. However, these flies are incapable of infestation in mammals and therefore are less harmful. The botfly native to the Northern American states is called rodent bot (Cuterebra cuniculi). The botfly range extends from the region of Mexico in North America to the areas of Paraguay and the northeastern part of Argentina in the south. For example, the human botfly lives and grows in the body of a human host. A larva infestation in humans is the cause of myiasis infection. So as a preventive measure removal of the larva or eggs from the skin of a human host is necessary.  

What is a botfly's habitat?

The most preferable botfly habitat is the tropical regions of their residential areas. Botflies originated from the tropics of Central and South America. Some troops of these flies are also found in the tropical forests of Africa. The warm and humid climate or tropics and sub-tropics are ideal for a botfly habitation. The 40 species of North America rarely cross the tropical areas to get to the continental parts of the United States. The warble fly or the human botfly of this region occupies the coffee farming highlands covered with cool and moist forests. Botflies in their larval stage infest warm-blooded mammals. Considering the example of human botflies, the larva of these flies cause an infection called myiasis in human beings. Other animals like birds and warm-blooded vertebrates like dogs also serve as the host for the eggs of this parasite.  

Who do botflys live with?

A botfly larva infests the body of a host and grows in that host's body. The host can be any warm-blooded mammal ranging from vertebrate animals to birds and even human beings. They feed on the body of their hosts to grow bigger. After metamorphosis, an adult botfly is assumed to live with its kinds like any other normal fly.

How long does a botfly live?

Botflies lay eggs that hatch to produce larva. The metamorphosis or the transition period of a bot fly from its larval period to an adult fly lasts for around two weeks, given the ideal conditions are met. Adults are expected to stay alive for around nine to 12 days on average.

How do they reproduce?

Botflies reproduce by the process of infesting a host's body by its larva. An adult male approaches a female fly to mate only after the latter conveys its readiness to breed by some behavioral actions. The bots are polygamous in nature. A single male can breed with multiple female pairs. Mating lasts for around nine minutes in a botfly pair. Females have a litter size of 300-1000 eggs in its life. After conceiving eggs, while some species of botfly directly lays eggs in the hosts, others like the human botfly select an intermediate vector to transfer their eggs to the host bodies. Some of these intermediate sources include mosquito or houseflies. These vectors transfer the eggs into the body of the hosts when they bite or when they eat infected food. Once the botfly larvae mature, it drops to the ground and moves into the soil. The females capture the intermediate sources and glue some of their eggs to that source while the rest to the other sources and then relies on myiasis.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the bot fly species of America and Africa could not be evaluated by IUCN and therefore are Not Listed. However, scientists have assured that these parasites are not extinct and do not possess any threat in the near future.

Botfly Fun Facts

What do botflys look like?

Botfly is one of the fastest flying insects.

A botfly's appearance resembles a bumblebee. An adult botfly is bluish-colored and it emerges from the pupae resembling a bumblebee. They have a yellow face and orange legs and all the segments of the body are covered with hair. Three ocelli are present along with a pair of compound eyes and antennae on the second segment out of its three segments. They have a very small body and a pair of wings are attached to the thorax.  

How cute are they?

Flies are not generally considered a cute species. Their face is not visible to the naked human eye so their appearance is not appreciated. However, the appearance of a bot fly under a microscope can gross some people out.

How do they communicate?

The communication process of a botfly is not very clear. Scientists have not yet come up with any theory regarding their method of communication. However, if botfly larvae are present under the skin you will feel movements under your skin.  

How big is a botfly?

Taking into consideration the size of the representative species of botflies, the human botfly (Dermatobia hominis) is 0.4 in - 0.7 in (12 mm - 18 mm) in length. The females are larger in size than the males. They are a bit smaller in size than a typical bumblebee.

How fast can a botfly fly?

It is a myth botfly can fly faster than the fastest airplane, the fastest birds, and even the fastest animal on earth, it was rumoured that they could average speeds of over 800 mph, however this a completely untrue and their top speed is estimated to be around 25mph.

How much does a botfly weigh?

The weight of a bot fly is unknown. This might be because it is very difficult to catch these flies and even if you succeed in catching one, weighing such light insects is not easy.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The males and the females are together called botfly or gadflies, warble flies, and heel flies. The respective genders do not have specific names.  

What would you call a baby botfly?

A baby botfly is simply called a botfly. There is no different name. However, after the egg hatches, they are called larvae.  

What do they eat?

Botflies are parasitic insects. In their larvae stage, botflies feed on the living tissues of their hosts. Within the host, they either form the pupae or leave the host's body at maturity.

Are they dangerous?

Human botflies are the only species that host under people's skin and mostly attack from the wound areas. The botfly infection in humans is known as myiasis. People generally do not die from their infestations. However, sensitive skins are more vulnerable to skin ulcers that cause serious infections and results in death. For this reason, botfly symptoms of myiasis should not be neglected.    

Would they make a good pet?

It is not very likely to keep a fly as a pet. They cannot even be tamed or trained to become a pet.

Did you know...

It is a commonly held myth that they can travel at 800 mph (1287kph) which would make them even faster than the speed of sound. However, this is not true, hasn't been proved and would kill them if they could reach those speeds. The best estimate for their speed is 25mph.

How does a botfly get its name?

The term bot means maggot. A warble means inflated skin or lumps on the skin. A botfly infestation in a human might produce such lumps and hence they are called warble fly. A human botfly is the only one capable of infesting humans causing myiasis. Another theory regarding the name of this fly is its metallic blue appearance. Since the metallic color resembles robotic traces and a robot is also known as a bot, these flies may be called so.

How to remove a botfly

Botfly larvae infestation causes myiasis infection in human beings which can turn out to be quite dangerous. Apart from that their infestation also causes skin irritation. This type of disease is common in Central American parts but rarely found in the United States. For this reason, to prevent botfly infections, the immediate removal of botfly larvae is important. There are many processes involved in botfly worm removal. The most effective and widely used botfly removal method is using forceps to remove the larvae after enlarging the openings. This method is used for dogs too. A venom extractor syringe can also be utilized for the process of botfly extraction from the body. Other methods include, oral antiparasitic medicines, pouring a large amount of iodine in the mouth of the openings, and forcefully squeezing out the larvae from the openings.  

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including the atlas beetle and the dung beetle.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our house fly coloring pages.

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