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)

Migratory Butterfly Research in Europe

I’m still super busy, so how about you visit LabLit and read about the amazing migration of the Painted Lady Butterfly.  The article is written by a researcher that is putting the butterflies into a flight simulator (!) to determine how they orient.  In other words, how do they know in which direction to fly?

The Painted Lady migrates from Africa all the way to Britain and northern Europe.  I suspect Nesbit’s work is related to further elaboration on this recent paper, that described two layers of migration: One at the ground level, relatively independent of wind movement, and another at very high altitudes, where prevailing winds would move the butterflies without much effort very great distances.

Nesbit works in the Chapman lab, which has done a great deal of work on butterfly migration.

Full citation of paper:

Stefanescu C, Alarcón M, Avila A. (2007). Migration of the painted lady butterfly, Vanessa cardui, to north-eastern Spain is aided by African wind currents. J. Animal Ecology, 76 (5), 888-898