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Ectoparasites - Lucilia

Lucilia cuprina: Australian sheep blowfly.

Lucilia sericata: Green bottle fly.

General Description: The smallest of the blowflies, metallic green in colour.

Life Cycle: Lucilia lays eggs on moist skin or in soiled wool. Larvae feed and develop in 2 to 19 days to maggots, which pupate in the ground. Larvae may hibernate in the ground over winter before pupating.

Location: Areas of skin with constant moisture - ie. The breech and tail - are most commonly affected. Lucilia is the first fly to "strike " living sheep or freshly dead sheep. Prolonged wet weather may cause Lucilia to strike sheep in the wool on the back.

Geographical Distribution: Lucilia cuprina - Australia, South Africa and New Zealand; Lucilia sericata - Worldwide.

Significance: From an economic standpoint, this fly is responsible for more losses in sheep than any other single parasite. Annual losses from blowflies in Australia exceed $50 million; without the genus Lucilia, losses would be much lower.

Effect on Host: The larvae of Lucilia feed on the skin and muscle of live sheep. Bacteria develop in the wound, and other blowflies are attracted to lay their eggs. The sheep rapidly become sick, lose appetite, and run a high fever. They fall to the ground and, if not treated, usually die.

Diagnostic Information: Larvae in wounds.

Control: Control is aimed at reducing the likelihood of continually wet conditions around the tail. The Mules' operation and crutching are used to keep the breech area dry. Dipping the whole sheep or "jetting" the tail area or back with insecticides leaves a residue of insecticide in the wool that will kill newly hatched fly larvae and prevent a "strike" being established.

Lucilia - adult

Typical blowfly strike


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