The Bugs That Lay Eggs All Over Your Body


In 2018, a cockroach crawled
inside a sleeping man’s ear and laid an egg sac. Luckily, roaches don’t go
out of their way to do this, so it doesn’t happen very often. But there are a bunch
of other unsavory bugs that will lay eggs all
over your body on purpose. First up, the human botfly. These insects, which are native to Central and South America, glue
their eggs to mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects. When the mosquito bites
you, the eggs hatch. Then the larvae wriggle into your skin, creating a painful pimple that leaks pus. Or, as the baby botflies call it, lunch. After five to 10 weeks, they escape. Not long after that, they reach adulthood, ready to mate, and start
the cycle all over. Another tropical parasite
is Tunga penetrans, more commonly known as the sand flea. Females burrow into
the bottom of your foot and slurp your blood. They start off smaller
than a grain of sand but grow to 2,000 times
their size within a week as they swell with your
blood and up to 200 eggs. Those eggs fall to the ground and hatch, waiting for the next bare foot to pass by. But some egg-laying parasites
go more than just skin deep. Tapeworms, for example,
invade your intestines. Adults can grow to be
longer than a bowling lane and block up your digestive system. But it gets worse, because they lay tens
of thousands of eggs, which can hatch and migrate, spreading throughout your lungs, muscles, and even your brain. If that sounds gruesome,
just wait till you hear about the Loa loa worm. It can be passed from human to human by hitching a ride inside of deer flies. When the flies bite you, the
larvae enter through the wound. After five months growing
beneath your skin, they reach adulthood and start to release thousands of embryos a day. Sometimes you can even see the worms moving under your skin
or across your eyeball. But, hey, not every egg-laying
invader is sinister. Face mites, for example,
are pretty innocuous. They live on pretty much everyone’s face, and most people just never notice. After all, they feed on
facial oil, not flesh. When it comes time to breed, females just lay one egg
inside of your pores. Even better, researchers can
now study your face mites to track how your ancestors
migrated across the planet, because we usually pass
them from parent to child, so the mites stay in the family. But face mites aren’t the
only helpful bug around. Green bottle flies might
be useful in medicine. They lay their eggs inside of open wounds, and then the maggots hatch
and devour the damaged flesh. That sounds brutal, but one day we might be able to harness this process to treat diabetic foot ulcers and other slow-healing wounds. Because when the maggots go to town, they actually clean the area and remove a lot of the dead tissue. They even secrete proteins
that reduce inflammation. So maybe botflies, fleas, and tapeworms could learn a thing or two and at least make themselves useful if they’re going to move right in.

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