The Bat Fly Project
The Bat Fly
Bat flies (Streblidae and Nycteribiidae) are among the most specialized families of the order Diptera. Members of these two related families have an obligate ectoparasitic lifestyle on bats, and they are known disease vectors for their hosts. However, bat flies have their own ectoparasites: fungi of the order Laboulbeniales. In Europe, members of the Nycteribiidae are parasitized by four species belonging to the genus Arthrorhynchus. A systematic survey of the distribution and fungus-bat fly associations of the genus in central Europe was carried out by Dr. Haelewaters and his team (Hungary, Romania).
Bats were captured close to roosting sites using mist nets or harp traps located at drinking, foraging, and swarming sites. All bats were identified and sex and age were determined for each specimen (whenever possible). Ectoparasitic bat flies were removed carefully using forceps. Bat flies were screened for ectoparasitic fungi under a binocular microscope. The position and density of thalli (fungi) were detailed and they were removed with an entomological pin and slide-mounted for identification.
Laboulbeniales seem to prefer female bat fly hosts to males. This may be due to a combination of factors: female bat flies have a longer life span, while during pregnancy female bat flies are significantly larger than males and accumulate an excess of fat reserves.
This study extends the geographical and host ranges of both bat flies and Laboulbeniales fungi.
Parasites & Vectors (2017) : https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-017-2022-y