Flesh-eating insects are not just small characters in science fiction novels. They really do exist. Feasting upon dead human flesh or living tissue, these insects are capable of eating human flesh through various means. Bugs that fall into this category include the Dermestes beetles, botflies, army ants and maggots. Maggots and the Dermestes beetles feast on dead human flesh, whereas army ants and botflies are able to penetrate and eat through living tissue.
The Dermestes beetle is also known as the hide beetle, and this small insect measures from .2 to .4 inches at adulthood. Native to the United States and Canada, the Dermestes beetle must grow in regions with a minimum temperature of 64 degrees to reach adulthood. Known to eat postmortem human flesh, the presence of these beetles aids forensic experts in determining length of death. The Dermestes beetle is distinguishable based on white hairs found on each side of the thorax region.
The botfly is found in Central and South America and is able to transfer destructive larvae to human flesh through mosquitoes. Botflies lay eggs on mosquitoes and then release their prey. The mosquito then lands on the skin of a human and releases the eggs. The larvae enters the skin, and maggots begin to form beneath the epidermis. After approximately six weeks, the larvae grows into maggots, which begin to eat their way out of the skin. These maggots drop to the ground and hatch into botflies, beginning the cycle again. Though maggots are able to damage brain tissue and cause death if not treated, infection and scarring are the most common side effects of botfly infestation within humans.
Army ants are native to Central and South America, and they are fierce and dangerous, posing threats to various mammals, including humans. The army ant has two front teeth and claws, as well as a venomous core that releases toxins into human flesh. These toxins act like acid when exposed to flesh, and begin to remove the layer of skin. Ranging from between .3 and .5 inches, these light brown ants warrant caution if traversing forests or other areas where they prevalent.
Maggots are the larvae of parasitic breeding flies, and they eat decomposing human flesh. Maggot are effective at removing bacteria, and they are prescribed at several hospitals throughout the world to treat patients with bacterial infections and post-surgical wounds that aren’t healing correctly. Maggots burrow into human skin and then eat their way out after a period of infestation. Maggots breed in cool, dry places and range in size from .1 to .4 inches in the larvae stage. They are creamy white in color.