Baldwin and Bot Flies

Because, as busy as I am, I can always stop and bring you news of a celebrity-insect nexus.

I don’t watch much TV–and so I REALLY had no plans to watch “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!” (although if Rob Blagojevich had been on, that might have been worth it, just to see what would happen to his hair.)

And yet:

Steven Baldwin Quits Celebrity Show after Botflies get Under His Skin

“Baldwin said: “I suffered in the first eight days of production, while in the jungle, over 125 insect bites on my body… kind of all over and two of them, much to my surprise, became quite lumpy initially.

“Within about 72 hours they were these half dollar-sized lumps under my skin that were probably about an inch thick….. I did get to take some time with the medic who explained that in his opinion at that point he didn’t think that it was the ‘implantation of insect larvae into my flesh’, but that – oh gosh – that’s what it could be… So they tested these things and sure enough, Stevie B was ‘pregnant.

And therein lies perhaps the most interesting thing you’ve ever read about Stephen Baldwin.’”

I’ve covered Bot Flies before here at the Bug Blog, and generally they are uncomfortable, but not usually very dangerous. In one of the best opening sentences of a scholarly paper ever, Paul Catts wrote:

“Maggots of cuterebrid bot flies are conspicuous, repulsive, and frequently encountered cutaneous parasites of Mammals in the New World.”

Yep, that’s about right. The primate bot fly belongs to the Genus Dermatobia, in the fly Family Oestridae. This family of flies are also known as warble flies, and infest all manner of mammals, including horses, cats, and mice.

Full Citations, for those who want to know:

Catts, E. (1982). Biology of New World Bot Flies: Cuterebridae Annual Review of Entomology, 27 (1), 313-338 DOI: 10.1146/annurev.en.27.010182.001525

Marty, Francisco M., Whiteside, Kristen R. (2005). Myiasis Due to Dermatobia hominis (Human Botfly) New England Journal of Medicine, 352 (23)

9 thoughts on “Baldwin and Bot Flies

  1. I recently read an article that said (half tongue-in-cheek, I think) that bacon should be a part of every tropical first aid kit. The argument was that bacon fat is the best way to remove botflies, because it forces them to the surface for air, but doesn’t completely suffocate them–leaving a larval botfly corpse just under your skin. The article was in some pork industry publication (a friend of mine likes to have different and interesting reading material around), so I’m not sure how much credence I should give it, but that was by far the best article in that magazine.

  2. I’ve heard the same thing about using any plain cut of meat. If the botfly isn’t able to breathe or sense light, it instinictively burrows back out. Unfortunately, this is a slow and painful process, from what I gather.

    Also, am I exceeding my schadenfreude limit if this article about Steven Baldwin makes me happy?

  3. I’m with Stephen Baldwin, I’d be out of there so fast. I’m aware that research says bot flies aren’t that dangerous aside from the usual risk of infection you get from open wounds but they are one of my personal nightmares. I saw a documentary back when I was maybe 14 or 15 that involved bot flies and ever since they’re terrified me. It’s a good thing I live in northern New England far from their natural habitat.

  4. Clarification since some folks missed this in the initial article–
    “125 insect bites on my body… kind of all over and two of them, much to my surprise, became quite lumpy initially.”

    in other words, only TWO of his bites actually had bot flies. Not 125 :D

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