March 29, 2023
Nairobi flies are injurious to humans if not handled properly. However, these are useful for agriculture and chemical produced of it is a potential anti-cancer agent.

These insects are neither flies, nor bees. They’re beetles.

Nairobi flies, also called Kenyan flies or dragon bugs, are small, beetle-like insects that belong to two species, Paederus eximius and Paederus sabaeus.

They thrive in areas with high rainfall.

What is serious about it?

If disturbed while sitting on anyone’s skin, they release a potent acidic substance [haemolymph = Pederin] that causes burns. One student [an engineering college in East Sikkim] who was recently infected had to undergo surgery in his hand.

Beyond the news – compiled for UPSC:

Where are these beetles useful?

The beetles live in moist habitats and are often beneficial to agriculture because they will eat crop pests.

How is Pederin produced?

Pederin is produced by a symbiotic bacteria that lives inside the beetles.

What is the benefit of Pederin?

Pederin blocks mitosis at levels as low as 1 ng/ml, by inhibiting protein and DNA synthesis without affecting RNA synthesis, prevents cell division, and has been shown to extend the life of mice bearing a variety of tumors. For these reasons, it has garnered interest as a potential anti-cancer treatment.

Is this only restricted to Nairobi?

It is not restricted to Kenya [Nairobi is the capital of Kenya]. Cases are reported from several other African Countries and other tropical and temperate countries through the world.

How this relates to India

Around 100 students of an engineering college in East Sikkim have reported skin infections after coming in contact with Nairobi flies, officials said on Tuesday (June 5 2022).

And now the reports said the deadly fly has invaded at least three eastern Bihar districts, such as Purnia, Kishanganj and Araria, causing panic in the border region. Health officials said the fly took seven days to reach Kishanganj from Sikkim and given their flying speed, this fly can reach Patna in the next 21 days (as of July 12 2022).

These flies have been found flying in West Bengal and have also reached Nepal. Given the suitability of wet and moist environment that is present here the region is slowly becoming an infested ground for the Nairobi Flies also known as the acid fly! High Alert in India as these flies have started creating havoc here.

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