Botflies are having a bit of a viral moment on the internet lately (or at least their larvae are). If you’ve come across any video footage, you might be wondering if botflies are a risk in South Carolina. The answer is yes, in certain circumstances. While the botflies that target human hosts are found in Central and South America, there are botfly species right here in our area that target other types of mammals.
What are Botflies?
Botflies are a species of fly (also called gadflies, heel flies or warble flies) with a parasitic larval stage that uses mammal hosts. Botflies deposit their eggs on mammals in a number of clever ways. They can hijack other bugs such as mosquitoes, houseflies and ticks by depositing their eggs on the insect’s body. The eggs are then transferred to mammals by those intermediate carriers. The eggs can be deposited on the skin directly or can enter the host’s body through the nose or mouth and then migrate through tissues to the surface of the animal’s skin. The larva then creates an air hole in the skin (a warble) that is the characteristic sign of a botfly infestation. Some species of botfly also lay eggs around the opening of rodent burrows where the eggs stick to the animal when it comes and goes. The animal’s body heat triggers the larva to hatch from the egg and burrow itself into the animal’s flesh.
What Animals Get Botflies?
In South Carolina, the most common hosts for botfly larvae include rabbits, squirrels, mice and rats. However, a larva will attach to the first warm host it encounters, which makes it a risk to pets such as dogs and cats, and yes, the occasional human. If you see signs of a potential mouse or rat infestation in your home, garage, shed or your business, it is critical to have The Pest Force come out to take care of the rodent infestation immediately. When you let a potential rodent infestation linger, you increase the chances that your furry family, kids or others could have an unpleasant and painful encounter with botfly larvae.
How are Botflies a Risk to My Pets?
When botfly infestations of the skin occur in dogs and cats, they are most often the result of contact with infested animals such as squirrels, rabbits, rats and mice or the entrances of their burrows where botflies could have deposited eggs to lie in wait for a rodent host. If you believe your furry family member has a botfly larva under its skin, it is important to have it removed by a veterinary professional. Attempting to remove the parasite could harm your pet as the larva itself is often far larger than the air hole it creates. Botfly larvae also have barbs on their bodies to anchor them into the flesh of their host, which could cause the parasite to burst during removal and create a life-threatening reaction for your pet.
Of course, the best defense is prevention. Be on the lookout for any signs of a rodent infestation and if you even suspect you have a mouse or rat issue, have your pest control technician from The Pest Force investigate right away. The faster you address any infestation of your home or other buildings by rodents, the less likely you or your furry family could end up dealing with botfly.