Growth and survival of blowfly Lucilia sericata larvae under simulated wound conditions: implications for maggot debridement therapy

Med Vet Entomol. 2015 Dec;29(4):416-24. doi: 10.1111/mve.12135. Epub 2015 Sep 18.


Maggot debridement therapy has become a well-established method of wound debridement. Despite its success, little information is available about the optimum duration of the treatment cycle and larval growth in wounds. This study examines the development of Lucilia sericata (Diptera: Calliphoridae) larvae under two containment conditions (bagged and free range) under simulated wound conditions and assesses the impact of transport and further storage of larvae on their survival and growth. There was no significant difference in size between bagged and free-range larvae over the 72-h experimental period. Larvae grew fastest 8-24 h after inoculation and completed their growth at 40-48 h. Mortality rates were similar (0.12-0.23% per hour) in both containment conditions and did not differ significantly (P = 0.3212). Survival of free-range larvae was on average 16% lower than survival of bagged larvae. Refrigeration of larvae upon simulated delivery for > 1 day reduced their survival to < 50% and caused a reduction in growth of up to 30% at 12 h, but not at 48 h, of incubation. Therefore, it is recommended that free-range larvae are left in the wound for a maximum of 40-48 h, and bagged larvae for 48-72 h. Larvae should be used within 24 h of delivery to avoid high mortality caused by prolonged refrigeration.

Keywords: Biosurgery; larval development; medicinal maggots; storage; surgical maggots.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Debridement / methods*
  • Diptera / growth & development
  • Diptera / physiology*
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Larva / physiology
  • Longevity
  • Time Factors