Geographic location of the bug: Greely Colorado
Time: 02:56 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: This little guy was found in a back yard. The fingers are those of a toddler who would like to know what this is. I can’t find it by googling. Thank you for any help!
How you want your letter signed: Mallory
Most people who encounter a Bot Fly in the genus Cuterebra for the first time confuse it for a Bee. According to BugGuide: “Females typically deposit eggs in the burrows and ‘runs’ of rodent or rabbit hosts. A warm body passing by the eggs causes them to hatch almost instantly and the larvae glom onto the host. The larvae are subcutaneous (under the skin) parasites of the host. Their presence is easily detected as a tumor-like bulge, often in the throat or neck or flanks of the host. The larvae breathe by everting the anal spiracles out a hole (so they are oriented head-down inside the host). They feed on the flesh of the host, but only rarely does the host die as a result.” BugGuide also notes: “Habitat is less important to these flies than the host mammals. Habitat-specific rodents or rabbits means habitat-specific species of bots.” We believe your individual is a Rabbit Bot Fly, Cuterebra buccata, which is pictured on BugGuide. We have written to Bot Fly expert Jeff Boettner to confirm its identity. Do you have any additional camera angles?
Jeff Boettner responds.
Both C. leupusculi and C. buccata are possible in Greely, CO. Both these species look a lot alike from the side, but the coloration of the back hints more of C. leupusculi. I think this is a male but also hard to tell from this angle and there are only 15 C. leupusculi males in collections, females are more often seen. Males may lek, ie if you went back to this same spot at the same time of day, you might see males fighting over that rock or the nearby area? Do you have any other pics from any other angles? Even slightly different angles.
C. buccata uses S. floridanus, whereas C. lepusculi uses S. audubonii but both rabbits overlap in that location. So a bit tough to call. But for sure a rabbit bot, and likely one of these two.