Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite!! – A Tale of Mango Worms

In honor of {Throw Back Thursday}, every Thursday I will be posting a post from our blog The Hutcheson Headline that we used while living in Uganda from 2012-2013. The post below was originally published by me on November 25, 2012 . You can view it here if you’d like to see the original version

A few days ago I noticed several red bumps on Isaiah’s back. My first thought was chicken pox but they weren’t spreading and they weren’t in the “warm” areas of his body. They were covering mainly just his back with a few on his arms. We figured they must be some kind of spider bite and put cortisone on them.

Friday night, after Zai’s bath, I noticed that several of the “bites” had white heads forming on them and I thought they must have puss inside them. However, when I squeezed one open it wasn’t puss that came out….it was a WORM! Yup. A mango worm.

The mango worm goes by many names. It is technically a fly larva and it also goes by the names mango fly, putzi fly and tumbu fly depending on where you are. It is found throughout tropical areas of sub-Saharan Africa, but is more common in certain regions (Central Africa, for example).

The worm works like this:
1. Adult female worm lays a few hundred eggs into the soil OR onto some damp clothing that is hanging out to dry.
2. The larvae hatch and look for a host. Dogs work well. Unfortunately, so do humans (although, they are not commonly found as hosts compared to other animals).
3. The larvae penetrate the skin of the host and take up residence under the skin.
4. Then they grow and fatten up.
5. After 8-12 days, a boil will have formed.
6. It will itch and then get increasingly painful before it…
7. actually opens up so the worm can come out to play.
8. The worm then falls to the ground where it buries itself in order to go into its final stage of growth before turning into a fly.

Sounds gross, right? Just imagine popping these things out of your son’s back!!

After the first one came out (and I screamed for help and my mom, dad, and Drew all came running!) we decided to try and get the rest out. The best method of removing a mango worm is by suffocating them. You put vaseline and a band aid over the wound and the worm can’t breathe so it comes up to the surface for air. So, we covered Isaiah’s back with vaseline and band aids and waited.

A patient boy waiting while we applied the vaseline.


You can’t see them all but he had 8!

After about an hour we came back to pop all the worms out. They were definitely near the surface and most popped out pretty easily. We counted 8 worms. Most on his back, one on his arm, and one on his forehead!

The worm on it’s way out after we had squeezed it!


And…it’s finally out.


Happy boy who thought it was so cool he had bugs living inside him.

Isaiah is a brave little man. He hardly cried and didn’t complain (even though we’ve heard the itching while the worm is making it’s way to the surface for air is almost unbearable). Actually he thought it was kind of cool that there were “bugs” on his back. What a boy.

Our house girl irons all of our clothes for the specific reason of killing mango worms but somehow a piece of clothing got missed or Isaiah picked it up some other way. Either way we are hoping we are not going to find any new bumps and that his fun experience with mango worms is over for now. =)


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