Author: Sarah Werth

Butler, Bloodchild, and Botflies

Hello all!

*** I will attach links to websites at the end of the post with botfly-related images***

After reading Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild”, I decided to do some more research on one of the inspirations behind the story…botflies.

With regards to these somewhat terrifying insects, Butler states, “In particular, I was worried about the botfly- an insect with, what seemed to me then, horror movie habits.” After doing some more research of my own, I see now why she refers to these pests as having “horror movie habits”.

Introducing The Botfly:

  • found in Central and South America
  • 12-18mm long
  • “bumblebee appearance”
  • eggs transported through blood-feeding insects or injected staight into host (ew!)
  • eggs hatch when there is a temp. change ( ex. the intake of blood from an insect)
  • Cattle & dogs are common hosts
  • larvae cause D. hominis myiasis (skin lesions) in humans
  • treatment in humans involves a simple surgical procedureOne aspect of the botfly that is the most prominent in Butler’s work is the egg laying/larvae process. In the story, we can see this with Bram Lomas and his condition. Much like the hosts of the botfly, Lomas was infected. When T’ Gatoi cuts into Lomas’ body, she finds several “grubs” infested in his skin, eating away at his flesh. Furthermore, T’ Gatoi places several parasitic worms from Lomas into the belly of an achti so that they can burrow and grow. Similarly, botflies lay their eggs in hosts so that they can grow and thrive.

    Like Butler, writing about these insects did make them seem more interesting (but for me they are still terrifying!

Sources:

https://www.amentsoc.org/insects/glossary/terms/botfly

http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/flies/human_bot_fly.htm