The Mango Fly (not the airline with a similar name) is also known as the Cordylobia anthropophaga; its specific epithet anthropophaga derives from the Greek word anthropophagous, or human eater.
It has been endemic to the subtropics of Africa for more than 135 years, however recently there has been an outbreak in parts of South Africa such as Pretoria. Reports suggest that this is due to the increased rainfall over the past weeks having created in our gardens the perfect breeding condition for these flies.
Mango Fly - The Human Eater!
Picture sleeping one night in freshly washed bedding, comforting fabric softener (a blend of floral and amber notes) to assist your journey through dreamland. Meanwhile, a number of limbless entities are burrowing their way through your unsuspecting body, your skins feeble attempt at protection rendered fruitless. You wake up in the morning after a good night's rest, unaware of the horror story to which you are now party. All that is left as evidence of the night's ordeal are a few meager pimples on your back.
But those aren't just any pimples; they are the beginning of a condition called cutaneous myiasis (a skin condition caused by larvae infestation). Within three days painful boil-like lesions will occur, as the fly larvae feeds on your dead or living tissue. At the site of penetration a red papule forms and then gradually enlarges. Initially you will experience only slight, periodic itching, but the pain will develop and increase in frequency and intensity as the lesions develop into an odious furuncle (boils). The furuncle's aperture would then open, allowing pus imbued with blood and the waste products of the vile maggot to drain out like the eruption of an active volcano.
The worms continue to eat away at you in a bid to feed their insatiable hunger, maturing under your skin through three larval stages before reaching the prepupal stage. After which the now whalelike maggot squirms its way out of your violated skin, drops to the ground, buries itself and pupates. It then becomes an adult mango fly, able to reproduce and begin the sequel to the horror movie Mango Fly - The Human Eater.
How transmission takes place
Female mango flies lay their eggs in soil contaminated with urine or feces. Recently there have been more accounts of them laying their eggs on damp clothing or bed linen. Damp clothing that has been hung out to dry makes for an ideal breeding location. The larvae hatch in 2-3 days and attach to unbroken skin. If the larvae hatch in soil, any disturbance of the soil causes them to wriggle to the surface and penetrate the skin of the host.
How can a Mango Worm infestation be prevented?
Because mango flies are known to lay their eggs in contaminated soil, be sure to resist the urge to walk around barefoot on soil, and in the same breath avoid rolling around in soil, regardless of how great the urge is. It's definitely not a good idea.
With regards to clothes; if you are in an environment where the mango fly is prevalent, like Pretoria for instance, it would be advisable to machine dry your clothes or iron them with great care after leaving them out to line dry. The heat will effectively kill the larvae.
Treatment for mango flies
Unfortunately, there is no medication that one may take to kill the worm, you simply have to wait for it to have its fill, mature and emerge. Alternatively, you can cover the boil with vaseline, effectively cutting off its oxygen supply, and then wait for the maggot to pop out on its own. If, like me, you can't stand the thought of the intrusive creature burrowing under your flesh, make a trip to the local doctor to have them extracted.
Mango worms do not cause any serious health risks (besides scaring a few people as a horror story around a campfire). They do not carry other diseases, nor create complications apart from the boils they create. However, be sure to remember to disinfect the area after the worm has been extracted.
Learn more about helpful DIY fly prevention tips, or if you require a professional fly prevention solution for your home or business, contact us to book your free pest risk assessment of the situation.
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