Bot flies (Diptera: Muscidae: Philornis spp.) are a group of flies comprising mostly species with a Neotropical distribution. Their larvae parasitize several species of birds, living subcutaneously on altricial chicks. We investigated the effect of parasitism by bot flies (P. seguyi) on the reproductive success of Chalk-browed Mockingbirds (Mimus saturninus) in temperate grasslands near the southern limit of bot fly distributions. We analyzed seasonal variation of bot fly prevalence during three consecutive years and how the timing and intensity of bot fly infestation affected growth and survival of Chalk-browed Mockingbird nestlings. Bot fly prevalence was 58.3%, 30.7%, and 45.5% each year, and in all years, it increased with time of breeding. Most of the infested nests fledged no chicks. In these nests, chicks had a lower tarsus growth rate than in noninfested nests and died 3–4 days after parasitism. The average time from hatching of the first chick until infestation was 4.4 days. The age of the chicks at the time of infestation was associated positively with nesting success and negatively with intensity of parasitism. Bot fly parasitism also reduced the survival of Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) chicks present in Chalk-browed Mockingbird nests, but the presence of Shiny Cowbird chicks did not affect timing of infestation or fledging success of Chalk-browed Mockingbird chicks. Our results show that an intermediate prevalence of bot fly parasitism produces an important decrease in the reproductive success of Chalk-browed Mockingbirds and suggest that bot flies may play an important role as selective agents in the evolution of host life-history strategies.
La Infestación Temprana con Larvas de Philornis seguyi Disminuye la Supervivencia de los Pichones y el Éxito de Nidificación de Mimus saturninus