Editors Blog

Whitetail Wisdom: The Worst Thing About Being a Deer

Botflies infest deer during the hot summer months, but the fly larvae stay with them for a lot longer than that. (Deer & Deer Hunting)

What is the worst thing about being a white-tailed deer? Well, to me, it would have to include the infestation of external parasites, including ticks, screw-worms, mosquitoes and black flies.

But there’s one scourge that has got to really bother the whitetail: botfly larvae.

You have likely seen deer reacting to nasal bots in summer. The behavior is typical – running around wildly, swatting their noses, sneezing and even submerging their snouts in water and blowing profusely. It is all in vain.

Watch this deer sneeze because of a botfly larvae problem, caught on a StealthCam camera:

What are botfly larvae, and how do they infect a deer? Well, it’s almost something out of a sci-fi movie.

The eggs of a botfly hatch in the uterus of the female fly and while in flight she ejects minute larvae into the nostrils of the host deer. The larvae migrate to the pouches that lie on either side of the throat at the base of the tongue. There they become attached in clusters and develop into what can best be described as full-sized maggots.

At least five types of deer botflies in North America, and they infest whitetails, mule deer, moose and elk.

Deer nose botflies have been reported from nearly all areas of the continental U.S. and Canada. They have not been reported from the Great Plains, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee or Alabama.

The earliest known cases of deer botflys was documented by the Greek philosopher Aristotle in 384 BC when he noted the prevalence of nasal botflies in red stags, so this is something that deer have been dealing with for many generations. The good news – botflies do not affect a deer’s overall health or the venison.


Exciting news continues to roll in for deer hunters and opportunities to watch great shows! Deer & Deer Hunting is inviting you to our new Saturday Night Deer Camp only on Pursuit Channel.

Saturday Night Deer Camp is a primetime block of shows kicked off each week with the award-winning Deer & Deer Hunting TV. Hosted by Dan Schmidt, Gordy Krahn, Mark Kayser and Steve Bartylla, the show enters its 14th season and covers everything related to deer hunting, from tactics and strategy to gear, biology, great hunts and more.

Following DDH TV, you’ll watch Destination Whitetail, The Given Right with Kenneth Lancaster and then Land of Whitetail. These four shows will make Saturday Night Deer Camp your must-watch viewing this year.

Check your local listings for Pursuit Channel. It’s also available now on AT&T U-Verse, Channel 1644, among other networks.

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