Impacts of parasitic flies on nestlings

Addressing how the nestlings of three species that differ in body size are affected
Birds must coexist with a wide variety of ectoparasites including lice, mites, fleas, cimicid bed bugs and flies. Among them there is a group of 50 fly species of the genus Philornis from which most of the larvae parasitize nestlings. Once the larvae infest the nestling, they live subcutaneously and feed on serous fluids, tissue debris and blood. The larvae develop in their host for 4-8 days, reaching a length of 8-9mm, after which they drop from the host to the base of the nest, where they pupate. This event can cause detrimental effects on their hosts including increased nestling mortality, slower nestling growth rates, and increased post-fledging juvenile mortality. The degree of the detrimental effect will depend on multiple factors, among the most relevant are the species of bird, the size of the chicks, temperature and rainfall, nesting date, the number of larvae that infect each chick and the age of the chicks at the time of infection (Dudaniec & Kleindorfer, 2006; McNew & Clayton, 2018). [see the complete blog on ]

Research paper
The impacts of parasitic flies (Philornis spp.) on nestlings of three passerines in a southern temperate forest of Argentina. Gonzalez, E.E., Jauregui, A. & Segura, L.N. 2021 Ardeola. doi: 10.13157/arla.69.1.2022.ra1

About the author
Exequiel Gonzalez
Exequiel is a young researcher at the Centro de Investigaciones de la Geósfera y Biósfera, Universidad Nacional de San Juan-CONICET, based in San Juan, Argentina. He is interested in bird ecology and conservation, particularly in studying the interactions and effects that man-made alterations in natural environments have on birds.

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