Belize - Bot Flies, Beef Worms, Pinching and Other Joys of Travel

A look at the Beef Worm (maggot) that's infesting my body!

The Beef Worm Under My Skin
The Beef Worm Under My Skin | Source

My Introduction to the BotFly and Beef Worm

This was my introduction to the BotFly and the Beef Worm. Once infested, there are techniques to get them out. I'll share what techniques I used. I'll also share how I got them, and what you can do to avoid the Beef Worm. The term "Bot", used in the name BotFly, means maggot. Hence, the Beef Worm is a maggot!

I'm in Belize as a tourist. I went to St Herman's Cave outside San Ignacio, Belize. It's a small cave, with some Mayan artifacts. While there, I was attacked by mosquitos. Yup, I had covered my body with insect repellent, but you know how that goes. I missed a few spots and that's exactly where the mosquitos attacked! Therefore, the way to avoid the Beef Worm, is to make sure your entire body is covered with insect repellent! Every nook and cranny, or you'll get stung by a mosquito and he'll deposit the egg of the BotFly.

The mosquitoes carry the egg of the BotFly. When the mosquitoes bite you, their "stinger" has the BotFLy egg on it. Hence, when the mosquito injects his "stinger" into your skin, it draws blood and deposits the egg of the BotFly.

Now, how the heck did evolution pull that one off? Somehow, this fly gets the mosquito to carry it's egg. (some sort of bribe, maybe?) The mosquitoes job, in order to make sure the BotFly continues to exist, is to find a mammal (me) to suck blood out of and to deposit the Beef Worm or maggot! (You know, the same type of maggot that feeds on dead animals.......)

It's an exciting day. I've had a bump beside my ear, for about a week. I'm now going to be told about the Beef Worm. How it's in my body, growing larger and larger. Further information will explain that the mosquito, when it bit me, gave the Beef Worm a channel, a tunnel, through my skin, that oxygen could flow through. This allows the Beef Worm to survive while growing beneath my skin.

I ask Carpio, a fellow renter, to take a look at the bump. Carpio, takes a look and says I've a "Beef Worm". Further inspection of bites on my body gets, "You have Beef Worms". As in more than one! This I don't want to hear.

Carpio covers the bump with Vicks Vapor Rub. He explains that this cuts off the oxygen channel to the Beef Worm. It either dies or comes close to the surface to get it's needed oxygen. He explains that if it dies, my body will do what's necessary to get the foreign substance out of my body.

If it moves towards the surface of my skin, then we pinch the area and pull the Beef Worm out. As in it's big enough to grab it with tweezers to pull the sucker out of my body! The pinching forces the "head" of the Beef Worm (the head of the maggot - I get the willies every time I think of that!) out of the oxygen channel. It's really big enough to grab and pull out!


St. Herman's Caves, San Ignacio, Belize - The Attack of Mosquitos Occurred Here

Entrance to St. Herman's Cave, San Ignacio, Belize
Entrance to St. Herman's Cave, San Ignacio, Belize | Source

The Confirmation of Beef Worms

On the way down to breakfast, I stop into the hospital, to double check the prognosis. The nurse tells me the same thing that Carpio's has told me. I've got 5 bites that are the infested with the Beef Worm. I'm a walking food source! Magnifico!!! This is NOT fun.

I usually go to the same place for breakfast. The owner doesn't have too much competition. Since the place was decent the last time I was here, I'm ordering breakfast once again. The proprietor is a retired Merchant Marine. He moved down her from New York because he missed the jungle and Belize.

As I listened to this guy share his history, I think, "What the heck do you "miss" about this place? It's hot and humid every day. You get the chance to be infested with Beef Worms. You operate a restaurant that has questionable sanitation. And you missed this?" (As the robot said, "This does not compute!")

I'm not a happy tourist! I'm trying to think of something that will seriously cut off the oxygen to these maggots growing in my body. Beef Worm or maggot, I want them out ASAP! My breakfast is eaten while I think of the proper item to use to kill or get the Beef Worm to come to the surface. I don't care anymore about the owners stories of his Merchant Marine days, or the natural wonders of Belize.




Done with breakfast, I search for something to "seal' the holes that supply the "Beef Worms". Crazy glue, hard on the skin! Rubber cement is expensive here. Hardware store does not have anything I think will be good. I go into a boat repair place, nothing catches my attention, like " Hey, this will work" Something for a seal on a hole - what the heck to get??

Then it hits me - nail polish - used to seal finger nails right? Hard, spreads on as a liquid, won't cause the skin to stick together, like crazy glue would. Can't be too expensive, as I have seen women from all walks of life here with good-looking nails, Sure enough, a small grocery store has some for $1.50 U.S. Bingo - this stuff will work to cut off the air supply, and stay in place once applied.

I head back to Jack's place. He and his wife have rented me a room in their house. Great hosts, and have a jungle smart guy for a renter down stairs - Carpio - smart guy, who's going to help me out with the dreaded "Beef Worm"!

Greeted by Carpio, who has it in his mind to get this worm out from just beside my ear. If you follow my jawbone,just before that little piece of cartilage that pops up when you try and put your finger in your ear - right there is where that little bug has grown, that little bloody worm!!

So , the way to get this thing out is to squeeze the skin together. Like someone pinching you real hard. He's trying to squeeze this thing from under my skin - to get its little head to show so he can grab it and pull it out. Now, sit back and think about that for a moment…………It is big enough to have a head and a body - growing under my skin - and I think I have two others in me. Just like home - NOT!!

So , at it he goes, Squeezes the skin together , gets his wife to bring out a pair of tweezers, and starts trying to get a hold on his ( The beef worm's) head.

Success! - he gets it, I feel a little twinge of pain and sure enough, he drops down this little worm (about 1/8 of an inch long!) on the rail. I find this really hard to believe - this bloody "beef" worm has eaten a portion of my body, grown from a bite from a fly! What the HECK!!!

looks over my bites, one is mosquito and two more look like infection from the dreaded Bot fly, the "beef worm" carrier.

Good God all mighty. I have not gone anywhere that was what I would consider dirty, or someplace I should not have gone. Blue Hole National Park and Cockscomb Wildlife Reserve is where I got nailed by the Bot fly.These are well-known spots for traveler's to visit.

This is normal for a visiting tourist? Yup is what Carpio tells me. Normal stuff like this in Belize. Malaria and Dengue fever still around these parts. Bot fly and some other one that is even more dangerous - flesh-eating infestation into the body, if you get bit by that one. I do not think that one has bit me. (God , I hope not!!)

So, I have bought some nail polish. Have to put something on the bite that seals off the air to this "Beef Worm',so it comes to the surface. I put nail polish over the bite on my back, and the one on my calve. I take a nap, and when I awake, the bite on my back is bothering me. I want to scratch it, know I should not. Talk to Carpio, he says wait a bit. I wait, and wait. Really want to scratch that thing, but if I do , I take off the nail polish that has cut of the air to that little "Beef Worm" Argghhhhh About an hour, and I go back to Carpio _ "Let's try to get this thing out!!"

So, again the pinch - this is much harder than the pitch to my ear - this one HURTS!! He uses my shirt to get the liquid off as the thing comes up from underneath my skin - the liquid is the "Beef Worms" waste. Marvey - this is real fun.

Pinch a little on top of the BIG pinch. He' s trying to grab the worm as it gets forced up and out of my skin. Success, after about 3 little pinches. This one is smaller than the first. Maybe 1/16 of an inch long. I am still amazed - these things are growing or have grown in my body. I still have that one left on the calve of my right leg.

Carpio tells me it is not big enough yet, as he squeezes the bump/bite on my right calve. I think ," This thing - I have to let it grow bigger UNDER MY SKIN???' Or the nail polish suffocates the worm , it dies, then we get it out in about 2 or 3 days _ Carpio"s answer, his solution to the problem , and no comfort to me.

So , I wait - did I kill it or is it working its way up to the skin to try to breathe - the one in my right calve? Not part of the travel plans. Not in any visitor brochure that I ever read on the internet. What is up with that??

Just another little story of the adventures of The Big Mozey. Bump by my ear has not gone down that much, so still putting nail polish on that area in case the first "beef worm" has brothers or sisters in there.

One on the right calve is no trouble - does not itch, but there's this bump. I will have to wait and see what "Doctor" Carpio has to say in the next couple days.

The "Jewel, Belize" is another wives tale, a marketing ploy. Rough and tumble, with chances of catching stuff you do not want to catch. Figure 4 x 4 trips to any ruins. Fly and mosquito bites, included in the price of the trip taken here. In Belize, A/ C is a great luxury, and clean restaurants are few and far between. A poor country with a long road to go, to get into the 21st century.

Accept it for what it is - a 3rd world country . Diseases still around, bugs that are not found in the northern part of the America's, poor infrastructure, but friendly people. Rugged trips to any ruins, limited things to do, and archaic laws and taxes.

Come in with both eyes wide-open, and you might enjoy Belize and what it has to offer.

Just do not try to get what the Bot fly has to offer you - painful little worms that are not pleasing to host.


I Figure Out What I Need to Kill the Beef Worm

While having breakfast, the solution to killing the Beef Worm is gotten!
While having breakfast, the solution to killing the Beef Worm is gotten! | Source

The Item is Bought for Killing the Beef Worm!

I'm eating my meal, the owners telling me stories of his Merchant marine days. I'm in that space of wonder - what can I use to kill the Beef Worm, owners stories are being half listened to. I'm feeling weird knowing I've got maggots in my body, my mind's wandering around my mental playground.

Plastic cement could be used, but can I find it? Super glue would work, but then I couldn't get it off my skin. What's readily available in the small town of Dangriga, Belize? What would cut off the oxygen and force those little buggers to the surface? Carpio said we'd have to let them grow bit before we pulled them out. I do not like that idea! I need to come up with a solution......nail polish!

Nail polish - that would do it. I put it on and I can get it off easily . I wonder where that thought came from. What's the got to do with a Merchant's Marines stories, or breakfast, or ......Well, never mind, that might me a good topic for an article - where do thoughts come from? But, for now I got maggots I want out of my body!

Nail polish of course! Any town with women will have nail polish and remover! DUH !!!!

Hard, spreads on as a liquid, won't cause the skin to stick together, like crazy glue would. Can't be too expensive, as I've seen women from all walks of life here with good-looking nails, Sure enough, a small grocery store has some for $1.50 U.S. Bingo - this stuff will work to cut off the air supply, and stay in place once applied.

When I return home, I'm greeted by Carpio. He has it in his mind to get this worm out from just beside my ear. If you follow your jaw bone, just before that little piece of cartilage that pops up when you try and put your finger in your ear - right there is where that little bug has grown, that little bloody worm, that maggot!

So, the way to get this thing out is to squeeze the skin together. Like someone pinching you real hard. He's trying to squeeze this thing from under my skin - to get its little head to show so he can grab it and pull it out. Now, sit back and think about that for a moment…………It is big enough to have a head and a body - growing under my skin - and I think I have two others in me. Just like home - NOT!!

So, he squeezes the skin together, gets his wife to bring out a pair of tweezers, and starts trying to get a hold of the Beef Worm's head. Success, - he gets it! I feel a little twinge of pain and sure enough, he drops down this little worm, about 1/8 of an inch long, on the rail. I find this really hard to believe - this bloody "beef" worm has eaten a portion of my body, grown from a bite from a mosquito! What the HECK!!!

Carpio looks over my bites, one is mosquito and two more look like they're infected from the mosquito bite, the Beef Worm carrier.

Good God all mighty. I have not gone anywhere that I would consider dirty, or someplace I should not have gone. St. Herman's is a tourist spot. So was the Cockscomb National Park. This is normal stuff at tourist sites?

"Yup", is what Carpio tells me. Normal stuff like this in Belize. Malaria and Dengue fever still around these parts. Bot fly and some other one that is even more dangerous - flesh-eating infestation into the body, if you get bit by that one. I do not think that one has bit me. (God , I hope not!!)

So, I have bought some nail polish. Have to put something on the bite that seals off the air to this Beef Worm, so it comes to the surface. I put nail polish over the bite on my back, and the one on my calve. I take a nap, and when I awake, the bite on my back is bothering me. I want to scratch it, know I should not. Talk to Carpio, he says wait a bit. I wait, and wait. Really want to scratch that thing, but if I do, I take off the nail polish that has cut of the air to that little "Beef Worm" Argghhhhh About an hour, and I go back to Carpio, "Let's try to get this thing out!!"

So, again the pinch - this is much harder than the pitch to my ear - this one HURTS!! He uses my shirt to get the liquid off as the thing comes up from underneath my skin - the liquid is the Beef Worms waste. Marvey - this is real fun.

Pinch a little on top of the big pinch. He' s trying to grab the worm as it gets forced up and out of my skin. Success, after about 3 little pinches. This one is smaller than the first. Maybe 1/16 of an inch long. I am still amazed - these things are growing or have grown in my body. I still have that one left on the calve of my right leg.

Carpio tells me it is not big enough yet, as he squeezes the bump/bite on my right calve. I ask, "This thing - I have to let it grow bigger UNDER MY SKIN???"

"Or the nail polish suffocates the worm, it dies, then we get it out in about 2 or 3 days", is Carpio"s answer, his solution to the problem, but no comfort to me.

So , I wait - did I kill it or is it working its way up to the skin to try to breathe - the one in my right calve? Not part of the travel plans. Not in any visitor brochure that I ever read on the internet. What is up with that?? Just another little story from the adventure. Bump by my ear has not gone down that much, so still putting nail polish on that area in case the first Beef Worm has brothers or sisters in there.

One on the right calve is no trouble - does not itch, but there's this bump. I will have to wait and see what "Doctor" Carpio has to say in the next couple days.

The "Jewel, Belize" is another wives tale, a marketing ploy. Rough and tumble, with chances of catching stuff you do not want to catch. Figure 4 x 4 trips to any ruins. Fly and mosquito bites, included in the price of the trip taken here. In Belize, A/ C is a great luxury, and clean restaurants are few and far between. A poor country with a long road to go, to get into the 21st century.

Accept it for what it is - a 3rd world country . Diseases still around, bugs that are not found in the northern part of the America's, poor infrastructure, but friendly people. Rugged trips to any ruins, limited things to do, and archaic laws and taxes.

Come in with both eyes wide-open, and you might enjoy Belize and what it has to offer.

Just do not try to get what the Bot fly has to offer you - painful little worms that are not pleasing to host.


Where the Botfly and Beef Worms are Found

Locations where the BotFly and Beef Worm live
Locations where the BotFly and Beef Worm live | Source

© 2010 John D Wilson

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Comments 17 comments

Roberto 6 years ago

Hi John,

I just red your account on the "beef worm".

I got back from Belize about a week ago. I was visiting a friend at Caves Branch, near the Blue Hole National reserve.

I have the suspicion that I have the same bites, but I am not sure.

I have about 4 bites near my ear all very close to each other(similar to what you describe). They have all been swelling slowly to the point that I can feel it under my eye now. Once in a while I feel a sharp pinch on one or two of them.

I just put nail polish on them today and see what will happen. How long does it take for them to run out of air if that is the case?

When you pinched them out... did they move?

Thanks for your help.

Roberto


claptona profile image

claptona 6 years ago from Earth Author

Hello Roberto.

Sorry to hear you might have the beef worms.

What happens when you put the nail polish on is it cuts off the worms supply of air, they have to move closer to the outside of the skin.

After about a day of the nail polish being over the bite, have someone pinch the area. Pinch it hard, to the point of hurting you - yup they are that stubborn to get out.

The pinching should force their head above the skin line, so with a pair of tweezers you should be able to pull them out.

It hurt line the dickens when the one on my leg was pinched, but the one that was pulled out of my leg was about 1/16 of an inch long.

The one pulled out around my ear was a bit bigger.

One of two things will happen-

1) You kill the worm, and the body will eventually get the dead worm out from your skin.

2) You do not pinch it out, and it will come out itself when it is ready to turn into a fly.

The two areas I had the worms still have not healed. Still have bumps where they were.

Nasty little things.

Best of luck getting rid of them if you have them.

Regards,

John D. Wilson


wilderness profile image

wilderness 5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

Wow! I don't I care to visit that far south after seeing this. I've been into Mexico and Honduras, on a cruise, and that's probably enough.


claptona profile image

claptona 5 years ago from Earth Author

Hi Wilderness,

Actually, beef worms live in the USA too, just a little more controlled.

I'll readily admit, traveling in Central America is not for the faint of heart. A lot different than going coast to coast in the USA.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Greatly appreciated!

Cheers,

John D. Wilson


Giselle Maine 5 years ago

An interesting and scary hub! Luckily I am not planning on any travel in Belize (although I also saw your response to Wilderness's comment that the beef worm is not restricted just to Belize). I am not a huge fan of tropical locations as they stress me out.... I think I would probably be super-stressed if I had to go to Belize! Thanks for sharing awareness of the beef worm and the bot fly, and how to deal with them.


nemanjaboskov profile image

nemanjaboskov 5 years ago from Serbia

A great hub, John!

I have heard about these nasty little things, actually I read it somewhere on the internet - not a pretty thing to have...

Thanks for the great descriptions!

Nemanja


claptona profile image

claptona 5 years ago from Earth Author

Hi Giselle,

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading the post.

You comment is icing on the cake!

The tropics are not for everyone, but there are many spots that are not "tropical".

I was surprised at the amount of mountains that bring much cooler weather than what I expected .

To your continued success!

Cheers,

John D. Wilson


claptona profile image

claptona 5 years ago from Earth Author

Hi Neman,

First experience with the Bot fly, and hopefully the last.

It is really weird, as this is the most popular Hub I've ever had.

I've even received email requesting info on how to get them out of the body.

Glad to hear you enjoyed the post.

Truly happy that you took the time to read it and post your opinion. Marvelous!

Play nice and travel safely during the holidays.

Cheers,

John D. Wilson


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Oh, no. I had been considering living in Belize. I have not been yet, but International Living sends me postcards everyday telling me what a deal it is. Of course, I'd never move anywhere without visiting first. Thanks for this heads up, as even visiting sounds risky!


claptona profile image

claptona 5 years ago from Earth Author

Hi Amy,

I just happened on an area that was infested with bot flies.

If you live in the US, there are bot flies there too, just more controlled.

Always remember grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

Central America is still a 3rd world area. Infrastructure is poor, building is way below American standards, bribes and dishonesty within police force/officials is worse than the states.

Yet I have run across quite a few expats that just love the countries here. They can build what they want, how they want it. Much less expensive to live here. Less government regulations on codes for electricity, water, etc.

Personally I think more opportunity here because of the 3rd world status. Some expats doing very well in Central American countries.

Pros and cons, ya know?

Have a great weekend!

Cheers


ixwa profile image

ixwa 4 years ago

How is the culture and music and dress and food of the people. Their kindness seem to parry the ills of nature because of poverty. I would have liked to know more about their origins and culture, foods and hospitality. Is that a doable Hub. Nice Hub


Elston Wade 2 years ago

Claptona: Your "Doctor" failed to tell you that bot flies only lay their eggs on visitors to our countries who have your type of mentality. You know nothing about Belize. Your description of Belize is full of lies. Were you too cheap to rent a good hotel room and to dine at a good restaurant? These are common in Belize. Were you too cheap to buy insect repellent and to use it before you go in the jungle? Any normal person would have used insect repellent. You know nothing about Belize and I am not surprise that people are agreeing with your opinions. The blind is leading blind!


claptona profile image

claptona 17 months ago from Earth Author

Eston Wade,

I understand where your coming from.

Yes, I was too cheap to rent expensive hotel rooms and pay expensive prices for food

Similar to people who think America is #1 because they don't see reality, does not mean they are correct.

Since I've been to Belize, stayed in Belize and hiked in Belize, I guess you're right.

I'm 63 and don't understand anything I see or do.

Thanks for making me aware of my faults.

Cheers


Mia 11 months ago

You (and this post) represent everything I hate in American people.

-A proud Belizean

"Cheers"


claptona profile image

claptona 11 months ago from Earth Author

Don't "hate" too long, Mia.

Only hurts yourself, and bothers me not.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

"Cheers"

P.S. They do have bot flies in the U.S.A., amongst many other things...........


SanPedroScoop 3 weeks ago

Oy...that's the area for them. Sorry about your little friend. It's more the idea (and photo) of it that is so horrifying than the actual experience. Or that's what I found. But yuck, yuck, yuck.


claptona profile image

claptona 3 weeks ago from Earth Author

It was weird, I'll tell you! Knowing I had maggots growing in my body. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! Appreciated!

Cheers

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