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Tumbu fly

Scientific Name
Cordylobia anthropophaga
Scientific Author
(Diptera: Calliphoridae)

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Diagnostic Images

Spine pattern
Ken Walker Museum Victoria
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Diagnostic Images (5)
Other Images (2)
Diagnostic Notes

When dealing with cutaneous myiasis caused by the flies such as the African tumbu or lund's fly or the South American human botfly, medical practitioners need to obtain detailed travel history and have an understanding of the fly life cycle to prevent erroneous diagnosis and to expedite prompt treatment.

People often seek treatment for infection and are given antibiotics, an approach that doesn’t bring relief. Left alone, the mature larvae will eventually emerges on its own and the lesion heals. However, if the larva is recognized, it can be gently excised with a sharp scalpel blade. Natural remedies include covering the lesion with petroleum jelly or bacon fat to cut off the maggot’s air supply and force it to emerge.

Below is video of a live 3rd larval instar:

Body movement - dorsal

Head and mouthparts - closeup

Body movement - ventral

Head and mouthparts - closeup

  Diagnostic characters: Third instar larva - Body up to 11-15mm and without obvious fleshy processes but cuticle with obvious numerous short, black spines; anterior spiracles in form of membranous stalks bearing finger like processes, posterior spiracles not widely separated and with serpentine slits.

There are two species of Cordylobia as Tumbu fly: C. anthropophaga; and Lund's fly: C. rodhaini. They closely resemble each other but can be distinguished by the posterior spiracles which are only slightly sinuous in C. anthropophaga and markely toruously sinuous in C. rodhaini.

Source: Medical Insects and arachnids. edited by R. Lane and R. Crosskey (1996) Chapman and Hall

More Information
Walker, K.
24/01/2008 10:26 AEST
Last Updated
20/02/2008 17:17 AEST
Walker, K. (2008) Tumbu fly (Cordylobia anthropophaga) Updated on 2/20/2008 5:17:01 PM Available online: PaDIL -
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Free for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia License