Adults of W. magnifica are handsome fleshflies, with a striped greyish thorax and an abdomen whose dorsal surface is bright white with a series of contrasting dark black spots, three per tergite, with the central spots elongated and tending to merge at their anterior edge with the one above.
Recent studies show that there are at least two main lineages of this species, based on analysis of the Cytochrome-b gene (mitochondrial DNA). These are western and eastern Mediterranean lineages, probably relics of ice-age refugia.Continental refugia await discovery. There is a strong geographical signal from the mt-DNA analysis which can help to show where invasions have or have not originated (Hall et al., 2009).
Wohlfahrtia magnifica is the only obligate parasite in the genus and, therefore, likely to be one of the most recently derived taxa, evolving from carrion breeding species.
The body length of adults is in the order of 8-14mm.Larvae range from only 1.5-2.0mm when deposited up to about 15-18mm when mature.
Larvae mature in host wounds within about 5-7 days. The rate of growth is determined by the temperature where they are feeding which, for these parasites, is dependent on the host body temperature. Larvae of W. magnifica will feed only on live hosts, never on carrion.
Adult Wohlfahrtia magnifica are flower feeders, but females will feed on protein at animal wounds. Larvae are obligatory parasites of living mammal or bird tissuesThe rate of development of pupae is determined by environmental temperatures, therefore it becomes slower at low temperatures. When temperatures drop and daylight shortens in the autumn the species enters pupal diapause (Ternovoy 1978).Adult flies emerge in the following spring, when the soil warms and the days lengthen.
Unknown, adults in captivity can live for 1-2 months.
Distribution and habitat
Wohlfahrtia magnifica is widely distributed throughout the warmer, southern parts of the Palaearctic region, from the Mediterranean basin, through central and eastern Europe to northern and central Asia, Mongolia, China and Afghanistan (Hall and Farkas, 2000).
The adults are thermophilic and inhabit hot and arid environments, usually being observed in flight only on sunny days in the summer, from May to October in the northern hemisphere to which they are restricted.Typical environments are forest-steppes and the steppes or semi-deserts of Russia where Portschinsky (1884, 1916) made his studies.
Adults of Wohlfahrtia magnifica are strong fliers, but no estimates of their flight range have been made.They colonised the whole island of Crete within about 5 five years, but the major potential agents for their dispersal are shipments of infested livestock.
There is little information on population biology but, like other obligate myiasis-causing parasites, the adult density is low compared to related carrion-breeding species.There is little information on population biology but, like other obligate myiasis-causing parasites, the adult density is low compared to related carrion-breeding species.
Diseases and Parasites
- Wildlife can also suffer
Life History and Behavior
There is no known regular migration of this species but it is subject to range extensions either naturally or through the assistance of humans, for example with movements of infested livestock.In 1999 it reached Crete, Greece, for the first time and has now spread throughout the island (Sotiraki et al, 2003)
It is remarkable that this species manages to keep sufficient population numbers to maintain its distribution in spite of major efforts made by the livestock industry to reduce its numbers by repeated use of insecticide prophylaxis or treatments throughout the summer period.
Populations are probably stable, but there is considerable potential for long term expansion of this thermophilic species within central and northern Europe if even the conservative trends for global warming are realised.
There are a number of prophylactic applications or treatments for this species (Hall and Farkas, 2000; Sotiraki et al., 2003, 2005ab)
The major threat to this species is anthropogenic in the form of a battery of insecticides that are applied to host animals to kill larvae.
None presently, but there is potential for future inclusion of W. magnifica as a Category B pest in the International Office of Epizootiology’s Animal Health Code, which would necessitate livestock trading countries following advised procedures for control of its movement.
Wohlfahrtia magnifica, the spotted flesh fly, or sometimes called the screwworm fly, though species of flies from other families go by this name. It is a species of fly belonging to the family Sarcophagidae . The adults are about 6–10 mm in length, 3 instar larvae are 5-7mm in length.
Wohlfahrtia magnifica larvae cause myiasis in mammals, mainly in sheep, but also in cattle, goat, horses and rarely in human. In sheep, larvae chiefly infest genitalia or open wounds. In human W. magnifica larvae may infest the ear, eye, mouth or nose, damaging living tissues. they may also infest open wounds, including post surgery.
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- West, Anna M.. "Myiasis". http://www.stanford.edu/class/humbio103/ParaSites2001/myiasis/Anna%20West's%20Myiasis%20Page.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- BÜYÜKKURT, Mustafa Cemil , MD. et al. (2008). "Oral Myiasis in A Child Due to Wohlfahrtia Magnifica" (PDF). Turkiye Klinikleri J Med Sci 28: 782–785. http://tipbilimleri.turkiyeklinikleri.com/download_pdf.php?id=51666. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
- Ruis Martinz, I. Leclercq, M (1994). "Data on distribution of screwworm fly Wohlfahrtia magnifica (Schiner) in Southwestern Europe (Diptera:Sarcophagidae)" (PDF). Notes fauniques de Gemblous 28: 53–60. http://www.fsagx.ac.be/zg/Publications/pdf%20zoologie/951-1000/952.pdf. Retrieved 2009-03-30.