"So, naturalists observe, a flea has smaller fleas that on him prey; and these have smaller still to bite ’em; and so proceed ad infinitum."
- Jonathan Swift
January 16, 2010
January 16 - Oeciacus vicarious
The swallow bug (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) primarily feeds on the blood of nestling and adult cliff swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota), which are colonial nesters found throughout North America. The bugs are long-lived and remain on the swallows’ mud nests throughout the year, even when the birds have migrated south. Swallow bug infestation can reach up to 2,500 individuals in a single nest and are known to vector Buggy Creek virus (Togaviridae, Alphavirus), which is an arbovirus hosted by birds. This ectoparasite is related to the common bedbug (Cimex lectularius), which is typically found in human environments. Swallow bugs are known to also bite humans when handled.
Contributed by Sarah Knutie.
Photo by Chris Kulhanek.