The parasitic relationship between a black fly, Simulium annulus, and the common loon (Gavia immer) has been considered one of the most exclusive relationships between any host species and a black fly species. To test the host specificity of this blood-feeding insect, we made a series of bird decoy presentations to black flies on loon-inhabited lakes in northern Wisconsin, U.S.A. To examine the importance of chemical and visual cues for black fly detection of and attraction to hosts, we made decoy presentations with and without chemical cues. Flies attracted to the decoys were collected, identified to species, and quantified. Results showed that S. annulus had a strong preference for common loon visual and chemical cues, although visual cues from Canada geese (Branta canadensis) and mallards (Anas platyrynchos) did attract some flies in significantly smaller numbers.
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Vol. 37 • No. 2