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Cochliomyia hominivorax

Cochliomyia hominivorax

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Subsection: Calyptratae
Superfamily: Oestroidea
Family: Calliphoridae
Genus: Cochliomyia
Species: C. hominivorax
Binomial name
Cochliomyia hominivorax
(Coquerel, 1858)

Cochliomyia hominivorax, the New World screw-worm fly, or screw-worm for short, is a species of parasitic fly that is well known for the way in which its larvae (maggots) eat the living tissue of warm-blooded animals. It is present in the New World tropics. There are five species of Cochliomyia but only one species of screw-worm fly in the genus; there is also a single Old World species in a different genus (Chrysomya bezziana). Infestation of a live vertebrate animal by a maggot is technically called myiasis. While the maggots of many fly species eat dead flesh, and may occasionally infest an old and putrid wound, screw-worm maggots are unusual because they attack healthy tissue.


Life cycle

Screw-worm females lay 250-500 eggs in the exposed flesh of warm-blooded animals, including humans, such as in wounds and the navels of newly-born animals. The larvae hatch and burrow into the surrounding tissue as they feed. If the wound is disturbed during this time, the larvae burrow or "screw" deeper into the flesh, which is the source of the insect's name. The maggots are capable of causing severe tissue damage or even death to the host. Approximately three to seven days after hatching, the larvae fall to the ground to pupate. The pupae reach the adult stage about seven days later, and female screw-worm flies mate four to five days after hatching. The entire life cycle is approximately twenty days. A female can lay up to 3,000 eggs and fly up to 200 km (125 miles) during her life.


Using the sterile insect technique, the United States officially eradicated the screw-worm in 1982. The same happened in Guatemala and Belize in 1994, El Salvador in 1995, and Honduras in 1996. There are on-going campaigns happening against the flies in Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Jamaica, all with financial assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture.


  • John Curran, Veterinary Officer, Broome (2002). Screw-Worm Fly (pdf). Government of Western Australia: Department of Agriculture Farmnotes. Retrieved on May 06, 2006.
  • California Department of Food and Agriculture Animal Health Branch (01-2000). Fact Sheet: Screwworm (pdf). Retrieved on May 06, 2006.
  • James, Maurice T. (1947) The Flies That Cause Myiasis in Man. USDA Miscellaneous Publication No. 631.

See also

  • The Screwfly Solution
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Cochliomyia_hominivorax". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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