By Mike Bodenchuk, Editor-at-Large
USDA recently confirmed the presence of New World screwworm in a stray dog near Homestead, Florida
. This is the first case of screwworms on the US mainland, though they were confirmed in endangered Key deer on Big Pine Key in October 2016.
Screwworms, the larvae of flies (Cochliomyia hominivorax
), infect mammals by burrowing through the muscle tissue. Resultant infections can kill the animals. New World screwworms were completely eradicated from the US in the 1980s. Sterile male flies were released to mate with females, resulting in sterile eggs and the eventual collapse of the population.
Hunters old enough to remember screwworms will recall that the eradication program increased deer numbers considerably, as deer were one of the favored hosts for the worm. ...