"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

December 28, 2012

Six-legged, fur-covered, sea-faring and conferences - all packed full of parasites!

It looks like we've made it through another year of parasites, filled with posts on new research that was published this year on all manners of parasitic and infectious organisms. Among many other things, this year we covered some parasitological going-ons in the insect world with Zombee parasitoids, a story of parasitoid wasp, aphids and their symbionts, a wasp that can manipulate the colour of berries, and a cricket-infecting horsehair worm which has abandoned sex.

We also wrote about parasites that are infecting our furry friends including reindeer roundworms, a flea of desert rodents, echidna gut parasites, anteater parasites, and a caring, maternal bat tick.

There were a lot of parasite action under the sea too, with jellyfish parasites that provide a floating buffet for some fish, a thorny-head worm which infects krill as a way of getting itself into whales, a leech that lives on shrimps, a prickly worm that lives in the stomach of dolphins, and a story of death, sex and fish guts.

Those are just a few example of post from this year; browse through the archives for a lot more parasitological tales.

Also for the first time on this blog, Susan and I had decided to report from conferences that we had attended on our respective continents! I wrote up a series of blog posts from the Australian Society for Parasitology annual conference (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), and Susan also wrote a few posts reporting from the American Society of Parasitology annual meeting (Part 1, Part 2).

We will be back next year to bring you more posts about the latest development in fields relating to parasitology and just like this time last year, I have already lined up a few which I am going to be writing about... See you all next year!

P.S. If you can't wait until next year for your parasite fix, I was interviewed in a Google Hangout On Air as a part of DeSTEMber - in it I talked about parasites, science, and art. You can watch the interview "Living with Body-Snatchers" here


  1. That type of liver cancer asked about in the video generally results from prolonged inflammation and blockage of the bile ducts. The trematode infection would certainly create inflammation and blockage of the duct, even if it does not excrete any specific carcinogens.

  2. notElon, I actually did a bit of literature search after the Hangout On Air finished and found a few relevant papers to Chad's question of carcinogenic flukes, you see see my reply in the thread here:

  3. "... new research that WAS published this year..."