Video: Beware the botfly

By James G. Robertson, National Geographic Digital Media

A New York Times story yesterday brought this video to our attention, which we found both fascinating and disturbing.

Wildlife filmmaker Vanessa Serrao returned from Belize with a special souvenir after she was bit on the head by a mosquito carrying a botfly egg, according to reporting by the Times.  As a wildlife filmmaker, she took the opportunity to film her husband removing the larva from her scalp.  The resulting video has been viewed more than 200,000 times on YouTube, not including the video on her own Web site.

Serrano says in the video that the botfly uses a process called phoresy to reproduce.  The botfly lays eggs on a mosquito, which hatch when near the body heat of a potential host.  The larva drops off the mosquito, burrows under the host’s skin and feeds there for about a month before tunneling out again and transforming into an adult botfly.

Watch the video…if you dare!

Changing Planet


Meet the Author
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn