What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

never seen this one!
August 18, 2009
I was out shooting at Goose Lake Praire in Illinois and came across this red eyed black and grey bumble bee looking bug.Ive never seen one before …any ideas? One friend thought it was a bee fly but I cant find any photos that look like mine?! Also it looks like it maybe laying orange eggs or maybe thats part of the plant?
Denise
Illinois

Bot Fly Ovipositing

Rabbit Bot Fly Ovipositing

Hi Denise,
Someone has been hard at work on BugGuide identifying all the Bot Flies in the genus Cuterebra to the species level.  We do not have the necessary skills to perform that task for you.  Bot Flies are mammalian ectoparasites and they are generally very host specific.  Once we took a better look at your photographs, we realized that you caught this female Bot Fly in the act of ovipositing, or laying eggs on the grass.  We would need to further research this, but we believe the eggs hatch and then the maggots would attach to a passing/grazing host.

Bot Fly

Rabbit Bot Fly ovipositing

Comment from Karl
Daniel:
I think you are right on all points Daniel, except perhaps the ectoparasite part. It does look like a Cuterebra spp. which are opertunistic parasites of small mammals. According to the online Merck Veterinary Clinic (http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/71500.htm): “Adult Cuterebra flies are large and bee-like and do not feed or bite. Females deposit eggs around the openings of animal nests, burrows, along runways of the normal hosts, or on stones or vegetation in these areas. A female fly may deposit 5-15 eggs/site and >2,000 eggs in her lifetime. Animals become infested as they pass through contaminated areas; the eggs hatch in response to heat from a nearby host. In the target host, the larvae enter the body through the mouth or nares during grooming or, less commonly, through open wounds. After penetration, the larvae migrate to various species-specific subcutaneous locations on the body, where they develop and communicate with the air through a breathing pore. After ~30 days, the larvae exit the skin, fall to the soil, and pupate.” Sounds a bit nasty!  K

Hi Denise,
This is a female botfly, Cuterebra buccata which is a rabbit bot. Its host is generally Sylvilagus floridanus (and maybe other species of Sylvilagus in some areas). The larvae are sometimes seen in the neck or shoulder, and/or rump and hip of the rabbit. The red marks in the eyes are only observed in rabbit bots, and your location in IL helps narrow it to a few species. Luckily there is just enough of the white lower face showing in your photo to narrow it to C. buccata. They are not very often seen laying eggs, so nice to catch that on film.
equalrights4parasites

Comment from Eric Eaton
Daniel:
That is so awesome!  I know the guy who is working on Cuterebra, and I forwarded him your message.  His name is Jeff Boettner and he works in the building next door to me here at UMass.  He says that about 30% of the known bots from North America are already on Bugguide, and that the most difficult species to find are already documented, some probably imaged for the first time ever.  Keep those bots coming!
Eric

Professional Identification forwarded by Eric Eaton
Hi, Daniel:
Here is Jeff Boettner’s response….”C” is for Cuterebra, so it is Cuterebra buccata.
Eric

Awesome,
Thats C. buccata a rabbit bot. I sent a post but I am not in the loop with that group so may take a bit for it to be posted.
Jeff

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
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2 Responses to Rabbit Bot Fly

  1. equalrights4parasites says:

    Hi Denise,
    This is a female botfly, Cuterebra buccata which is a rabbit bot. Its host is generally Sylvilagus floridanus (and maybe other species of Sylvilagus in some areas). The larvae are sometimes seen in the neck or shoulder, and/or rump and hip of the rabbit. The red marks in the eyes are only observed in rabbit bots, and your location in IL helps narrow it to a few species. Luckily there is just enough of the white lower face showing in your photo to narrow it to C. buccata. They are not very often seen laying eggs, so nice to catch that on film.

  2. kkroeker says:

    Daniel:

    I think you are right on all points Daniel, except perhaps the ectoparasite part. It does look like a Cuterebra spp. which are opertunistic parasites of small mammals. According to the online Merck Veterinary Clinic (http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/71500.htm): “Adult Cuterebra flies are large and bee-like and do not feed or bite. Females deposit eggs around the openings of animal nests, burrows, along runways of the normal hosts, or on stones or vegetation in these areas. A female fly may deposit 5-15 eggs/site and >2,000 eggs in her lifetime. Animals become infested as they pass through contaminated areas; the eggs hatch in response to heat from a nearby host. In the target host, the larvae enter the body through the mouth or nares during grooming or, less commonly, through open wounds. After penetration, the larvae migrate to various species-specific subcutaneous locations on the body, where they develop and communicate with the air through a breathing pore. After ~30 days, the larvae exit the skin, fall to the soil, and pupate.” Sounds a bit nasty! K

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