Cuterebra: bot fly larvae or warbles. I’ve seen one warble removed from the nose of a young kitten. The kitten was bloody pleased to have the operation done. They are normally passive and accepting as if they know that what is about to happen is going to be good and the discomfort (and pain?) is about to end. It is the size of the buggers that shock me. They just sit there inside the body of the kitten with their breathing apparatus – a snorkel – sticking out (two posterior spiracles that lie flush with the host’s skin). Absolutely disgusting. If there is a God, why did he create bot fly larvae. Nasty parasites. What good do they do in the world? I suppose they are less obnoxious that millions of humans come to think about it.
Well, I can’t show the video on this page where there are adverts because the advertisers will object or Google Adsense, the agency will definitely object. So please click on the link below to see the morbidly fascinating short TikTok video. It is acceptable and, in a way, quite satisfying to see these fat, black bastards being removed.
VCA Animal Hospitals can help me on the topic of warbles in cats. Technically speaking they are called: cuterebra. This is the scientific name of the North American rabbit or rodent botfly, if that interests you! There are 26 different species in the US and Canada. They are also found in Mexico. The larvae, as you can see, develop within the tissues of their host animal.
The adult botfly normally deposits their eggs at the opening of rodent or rabbit burrows because the larvae normally infest rodents and rabbits. They normally enter the host body through an opening such as the nose or mouth or through a wound in the skin. After several days they migrate to the tissues beneath the skin where they encyst and develop.
Cats are accidental hosts of cuterbera larvae. Cats and kittens might get them when they are hunting a rodent and therefore, they end up at the entrance to a rodent burrow where the larvae are waiting. Most cases occur around the neck and head as you can see in the video.
You can see the black posterior of the warble poking out from the skin. Once it has been removed with tweezers (debrided), antibiotics are usually prescribed to prevent a secondary bacterial infection taking hold. Sometimes surgery is employed to close the injured site.
The prognosis is good for a complete resolution and there are few if any permanent side effects.
Below are some more articles on parasites.