Mango Worms? What Are They?
Mango Worms? What Are They?
Mango worms are the parasitic larvae of the mango fly or Cordylobia anthropophaga, which is also known as Putzi fly, Tumbu fly, Tumba Fly or Skin maggot fly. They’re native to large parts of Africa, including East Africa, South Africa, and Uganda. They’re commonly found in the northern parts of South Africa, where temperatures and humidities are high, but because of all the different forms of travel, they’re often accidentally spread from one place to another. So, mango flies and worms can pretty much be anywhere around the world.
What’s so scary about mango worms is that their main hosts are mammals. That means they can infect foxes, goats, mice, dogs, cats, and—wait for it—humans! Yep. If we’re not careful, we can fall prey to these nasty little bugs too! We can also spread them to new areas where they can infect more people and animals. They can burrow under the skin, and cause painful pus-filled lesions that eventually turn red and swollen. Yikes!
Read on to know why mango worms burrow under the skin, what the signs and symptoms of a mango worm infestation are, and how you can protect yourself and your pet from a mango worm infestation.
Why Do Mango Worms Burrow Under The Skin?
Mango fly larvae, or mango worms, need mammalian hosts to complete their life cycle and mature into adult mango flies. The cycle begins when female mango flies lay their eggs on dirt or soil that smells of feces or urine. They may also lay their eggs on clothing, beddings, towels, or any kind of fabric material that’s been outside. Clothes that carry the scent of sweat or washed clothing being air-dried outdoors are also prime spots for female mango flies to lay their eggs.
When the mango fly eggs hatch, parasitic mango fly larvae or mango worms, come into the scene. They can survive for up to two weeks without a host. They mostly lie in wait for unsuspecting hosts to come into contact with whichever surface or material their mango fly mother laid them on. Then, once the mango worms finally touch flesh, they painlessly burrow into the skin and feed on their host’s living tissues for two to three weeks as they continue to grow. During this time, a red, swollen boil with a small hole at the top will start to form. When the mango worms reach maturity, they pop out of the skin and fall off.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Mango Worm Infestation?
Mango worms can infect all mammals, including household pets and humans. So, it’s best to know what to look out for in case you or your pet ever run into these creepy-crawlies. That way, you can seek medical attention right away.
The signs and symptoms of a mango worm infestation in humans include mild to intense itching, pain, swollen pimple-like lesions, painful boils, inflamed skin, fever, and weird wriggling sensations under the skin.
For pets, signs of a mango worm infestation usually include reddened skin, skin lumps or blister-like lesions on the skin, bald spots, intense scratching, discomfort or pain, and behavioral changes. However, sometimes animals don’t show any signs of infection until the worms have gotten bigger, so make sure to always check your pet’s fur and skin for anything out of the ordinary.
How Can You Prevent A Mango Worm Infestation?
If you travel to places that have mango worms or live in an area with hot and humid weather, you can take these preventive measures to avoid mango worm infestations:
- Avoid air-drying clothing, bedsheets, or any other fabric outdoors
- Don’t leave sweaty clothes outside
- Iron your clothes (The heat from the iron can kill mango fly eggs)
- Use insect repellant
- Use an insecticide spray to kill all the flies you see indoors
- Clean up your pet’s feces or urine immediately
- Talk to your veterinarian about a pet-friendly insect repellant for your pet