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A Truly Revolting Treatment Is Having a Renaissance

The Atlantic

Photo: David Hecker / Getty / The Atlantic

In its larval stage, Lucilia sericata looks unassuming enough. Beige and millimeters long, a bottle-fly grub may lack good looks, but it contains a sophisticated set of tools for eating dead and dying human flesh. The maggots ooze digestive enzymes and antimicrobials to dissolve decaying tissue and to kill off any unwanted bacteria or pathogens. Lacking teeth, they use rough patches on their exterior and shudder-inducing mandibles (called “mouth hooks”) to poke at and scratch off dead tissue before slurping it up.  

This flesh-eating repertoire is hard enough to stomach in the ...