"" Writer's Wanderings: The Florida Keys Screwworm

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Florida Keys Screwworm

When we started into Key Largo on our way to our condo rental, we noticed a sign warning of the screwworm. What? Huh? I grabbed my phone and did what any curious mind does. I searched the internet.

The screwworm is a larva from a type of blow fly. The fly lays its eggs in the wounds of a warm blooded mammal and when they hatch into a maggot, they feed off the host, enlarging the wounds and ultimately causing death. The cycle repeats and repeats and can be a danger to livestock and other warm blooded animals.

The infestation was discovered in Big Pine Key as it began to devastate the endangered Key Deer herd. Over a hundred deer so far have died or been euthanized due to the infections they suffered.

Unfortunately pesticides are not effective on the fly or larva so they are importing sterile male flies from a research center in Panama to release and hopefully mate with the females that are present. Since the females only mate once, it is an effective way to eliminate the problem although obviously it will take some time. The problem was discovered last summer and has been monitored since then.

As you exit the keys in Key Largo, there is a mandatory inspection for all pets. So many people bring their dogs when they come that there is a danger of carrying the infestation farther. It is suggested if you have a pet that you inspect them twice a day to be sure there are no wounds that the maggots could infect. If some are found, it is further suggested that you take your pet to a veterinarian to be treated.

Oh, husbands do not qualify as pets. Just sayin'.

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