Ectoparasitism of nesting birds is known to impact reproduction for many species including cavity-nesting swallows and ground-nesting colonial seabirds. Little information is available from wading birds (e.g., herons, egrets, ibises). We documented skin-eating dermestid beetle abundance in 261 wading-bird nests in seven heronries located in northeastern US estuaries during 1991–2000. Beetles were collected after fledglings were no longer using the nest. We examined all twigs and debris for larval and adult beetles, and excavated holes in twigs to count pupating insects. In addition, nest size was evaluated. Dermestes nidum (dermestid beetle) larvae were prominent members of nest faunal communities in all estuaries. We detected no evidence that beetle abundance correlated with wading-bird species, nest reuse, nest substrate species, or nest-collection date. Regression analysis and partial correlation analysis identified nest size, colony, and year as factors showing a significant relationship with beetle abundance after accounting for all known factors.
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