We studied the parasitism of the exotic European starling Sturnus vulgaris by native botflies Philornis spp. in Argentina. We installed thirty nest boxes in the northeastern Buenos Aires province in the 2010–2011 breeding season. In the first brood, subcutaneous larvae of Philornis (Muscidae) parasitised 34 nestlings (89.4%) of 11 clutches (91.6%) and only three nestlings fledged. In the second brood, Philornis parasitised 15 (48.3%) nestlings of seven clutches (70%) and all the nestlings died. Compared to the mortality of other Neotropical birds parasitised by Philornis, the mortality in European starling nests is the highest found in the region. Our results show that the studied population of European starling suffers a high level of parasitism by Philornis, although this factor was not directly associated with the high mortality of starling nestlings. The fact that most non-parasitised nestlings also died indicates that other factors are also affecting nestling survival. Experiments that allow us to isolate the effect of Philornis from other variables would be needed to evaluate the impact of botfly larvae on starling nestlings.
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Vol. 62 • No. 2