My blog will now join the short list of results that pop up when you search for "nairobi fly, acid bug" on Google. Mike was hit by one over the weekend.
The Nairobi fly is a small beetle that does not bite or sting, but based on its nickname acid bug, guess what it does? The insides of the bug are toxic, and if you smack it against your skin the juices cause a burning rash. They are common throughout East and Central Africa, and it's the season for them here in Burundi. We think Mike and his friend rode through a swarm of them on their bikes over the weekend, because his friend has some burn spots, too, and the spots appeared on both of them after they returned from the ride.
We've heard of two remedies to soothe the burning, but Mike hasn't tried either yet. One is to use toothpaste, the old-school white kind, and the other is to cut a potato and rub it on the burn area. Both the toothpaste and the potato are supposed to draw out the acid. If you wash the area immediately after discovering you've smashed one of the bugs, you can reduce the inflammation. If you have extremely sensitive skin, apparently having one just land on you can cause small burning spots; Mike witnessed a friend in Congo show up to work one morning with "footprints" across her cheek.
Mike's doing fine. His burn patch is small and I think it's irritating more than it's actually burning.
Image from the blog Muda Mrefu.