New geographic and host record for the bird parasitic fly

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1New geographic and host record for the bird parasitic fly Philornis masoni Couri, 1986 (Diptera, Muscidae)


Silvio S. Nihei and Glayson A. Bencke

Curitiba (Brazil) Porto Alegre (Brazil)
The bird parasitic fly genus Philornis Meinert, 1890 (Diptera, Muscidae) comprises 51 species (Carvalho et al. 1993; Couri 2000) and has a mainly Neotropical distribution (Carvalho & Couri 2002). These flies are known by their peculiar larval habits, since most species are subcutaneous blood-feeding parasites of nestling birds on larval stages (Skidmore 1985; Couri 1999). The knowledge of Philornis associations is important because haematophagous nest parasites influence both reproductive success and nest site selection in birds (Loye & Carrol 1998). Parasitism by Philornis larvae represents a significant source of mortality for birds, and may become a management problem for host species facing extinction risk (Snyder et al. 1987; Fessl et al., in press). There is some evidence, for example, that the spreading of an edge bird species that serves as host for Philornis larvae may increase parasitism rate over sympatric species of conservation concern (Snyder et al. 1987). Here we report the parasitism of P. masoni Couri, 1986 on a nestling of Guira guira (Gmelin, 1788) (Cuculiformes, Cuculidae), a common open-country cuckoo with a wide distribution in eastern South America.

A mature larva of P. masoni was collected from a nestling G. guira that fell from its nest on 17 January 2002 at Morungava (29°47'S, 50°53'W, 200 m), municipality of Gravataí, State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The larva abandoned its host naturally and was allowed to pupate in laboratory conditions at the Museu de Ciências Naturais, Fundação Zoobotânica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil. It was placed in a small plastic vessel containing earth and enclosed in a plastic bag. An adult female emerged about 15–20 days later and was deposited at the entomological collection of the Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil (DZUP).

Philornis masoni is characterized by intradermical haematophagous larvae (Couri 1999) and is known to associate with five other species of birds (Couri 1986), all of which are passerines, namely, Anumbius annumbi (Vieillot, 1817), Synallaxis spixi Sclater, 1856, Cranioleuca pyrrhophia (Vieillot, 1818) (Furnariidae), Tyrannus melancholicus Vieillot, 1819 (Tyrannidae), and Molothrus bonariensis (Gmelin, 1789) (Icteridae). Among the Cuculidae, only Crotophaga ani Linnaeus, 1758 and Coccyzus melacoryphus Vieillot, 1817 had been previously reported as hosts for Philornis flies (Couri 1985; Teixeira 1999; Fessl et al. 2001).

Besides the new host record, this note also provides a new geographical record for P. masoni. This species was originally described by Couri (1986) based on specimens from Department of Colonia, Uruguay, and has not been found elsewhere. With the present record, the species’ known range is extended to adjacent southern Brazil.


The authors are grateful to Dr Claudio J. B. de Carvalho (DZUP) for valuable comments. S. S. N. thanks the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for financial support (Process number 141936/2000-2). This paper is the contribution number 1383 of the Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade Federal do Paraná.


Carvalho, C. J. B. de & Couri, M. S. (2002): Part I. Basal groups. - In: Carvalho, C.J.B. de (ed.): Muscidae (Diptera) of the Neotropical Region: Taxonomy: p.17-132. Curitiba: Universidade Federal do Paraná.

Carvalho, C. J. B. de, Couri, M. S., Pont, A. C., Pamplona, D. & Lopes, S. M. (1993): Part II. Muscidae - In: Carvalho, C. J. B. de (ed.): A Catalogue of the Fanniidae and Muscidae (Diptera) of the Neotropical Region: 201pp. São Paulo: Sociedade Brasileira de Entomologia.

Couri, M. S. (1985): Considerações sobre as relações ecológicas das larvas de Philornis Meinert, 1890 (Diptera, Muscidae) com aves. – Revista Brasileira de Entomologia 29:17-20; Curitiba.

Couri, M. S. (1986): Philornis masoni n. sp. and new host records of three congeneric flies (Diptera, Muscinae, Cyrtoneurininae). – Revista Brasileira de Biologia 46:627-631; Rio de Janeiro.

Couri, M. S. (1999): Myiasis caused by obligatory parasites. 1a. Philornis Meinert (Muscidae). – In: Guimarães, J. H. & Papavero, N. (eds): Myiasis in man and animals in the Neotropical Region: bibliographic database: p.51-70. São Paulo: Plêiade & FAPESP.

Couri, M. S. (2000): A new species of Philornis Meinert from Galapagos Is. (Diptera, Muscidae). – Boletim do Museu Nacional (Nova Série, Zoologia) 414:1-6; Rio de Janeiro.

Fessl, B., Couri, M. S. & Tebbich, S. (2001): Philornis downsi Dodge & Aitken, new to the Galapagos Islands (Diptera, Muscidae). – Studia dipterologica 8:317-322; Halle.

Fessl, B., Tebbich, S. & Couri, M. S. (in press): A newly discovered parasite on the Galapagos archipelago – a threat for Darwin Finches? – Ibis; London.

Loye, J. E. & Carroll, S. P. (1998): Ectoparasite behavior and its effects on avian nest site selection. – Annals of the Entomological Society of America 91:159-163; Lanham.

Skidmore, P. (1985): The biology of the Muscidae of the world. – Series Entomologica 29, Dr. W. Junk Publishers, Dordrecht.

Snyder, N. F. R., Wiley, J. W. & Kepler, C. B. (1987): The parrots of Luquillo: natural history and conservation of the Puerto Rican Parrot. – 384pp.; Los Angeles: Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology.

Teixeira, D. M. (1999): Myiasis caused by obligatory parasites. 1b. General observations on the biology of species of the genus Philornis Meinert, 1890 (Diptera, Muscidae). – In: Guimarães, J. H. & Papavero, N. (eds): Myiasis in man and animals in the Neotropical Region: bibliographic database: p.71-96. São Paulo: Plêiade & FAPESP.
Authors’ addresses

Silvio Shigueo Nihei

Curso de Pós-graduação em Entomologia

Departamento de Zoologia

Universidade Federal do Paraná

Caixa postal 19020

81531-990 Curitiba

PR, Brazil

Dr Glayson Ariel Bencke

Museu de Ciências Naturais

Fundação Zoobotânica do Rio Grande do Sul

90001-970 Porto Alegre

RS, Brazil


1Publicado em Studia dipterologica, vol. 10, n. 1, pp. 328–329 [15 dezembro 2003]

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