Parasitic fly on Spotted Dove

on 24th January 2010

Willi Kwek photographed a fly running around the body of the fledgling Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis). “This fly, also seen on the other doves, appears to have special adaptations on its feet for holding onto feathers,” says Willi. “It also has a flat profile for easy burrowing through the feathers. It appears to irritate the dove, who would try to peck at it or to preen it off, but the fly is too quick. It darts all over the bird’s body, burrowing in and out, and it’s difficult to predict where or when it would next reappear on the surface. Thought your biology or ornithology friends might be interested. Took these photo with my kit lens so not so detailed.”

According to Dr Leong Tzi Ming, “The parasitic fly on the Spotted Dove is most likely to be the cosmopolitan Louse Fly, Pseudolynchia canariensis (Order Diptera: family Hippoboscidae: subfamily Ornithomyinae). It is a highly evolved, obligate ecto-parasite of birds, with a dorso-ventrally flattened body designed to slide in between feathers with ease. It also has robust limbs with strong claws, that aid in hanging on to a rapidly flying host. In Singapore, this parasitic fly has been recorded from Feral Pigeons (Columba livia), and is itself a vector for the hematozoan endoparasite, Haemoproteus columbae (Paperna & Smallridge, 2002). The Louse Fly has also been reported on many other avian hosts, including the Malayan Red Jungle Fowl (Gallus gallus spadiceus) (Lee & Amin-Babjee, 1993).

Image by Willi Kwek.

Lee, C. C. & S. M. Amin-Babjee, 1993. New host records of parasites in the Malayan Red Jungle Fowl, Gallus gallus spadiceus. Pertanika J. Trop. Agric. Sci., 16(2): 107-110.
2. Paperna, I. & C. Smallridge, 2002. Haemoproteus columbae infection of feral pigeons in Singapore and Israel. Raffles Bull. Zool., 50(2): 281-286.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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