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Cliff swallow breeding thwarted by bird version of bedbugs

Bedbugs are no fun, even when you’re a bird.

The species that bothers humans — Cimex lectularius — only feasts on us. But other animals have to deal with their own versions of the nasty parasite. Cliff swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota), for instance, are plagued by the American swallow bug (Oeciacus vicarius). When swallow bugs infest cliff swallows’ gourd-shaped nests, it’s bad news for swallow nestlings, affecting the young birds’ development and survival.

The parasites are also bad for the parents, scientists report February 17 in Royal Society Open Science. But instead of taking a toll on the parents’ bodies, the swallow bugs affect breeding.



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