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The vampire fly (Philornis downsi) lays eggs in bird nests and their larvae parasitize nestlings. This fly invaded the Galapagos Islands from mainland South America during the last century and is attacking the iconic Darwin’s finches to the point of driving some species to extinction. Researchers will examine the potential ecological risks of releasing a parasitic wasp species in Galapagos that specializes in killing the vampire fly as a means of protecting the finches. Risk assessment will be done in a controlled laboratory environment, studying the impact of introduced wasps on endemic and native insects. Findings will help inform local authorities about the prospect of using parasitic wasps as natural biological control agents to help save Darwin’s finches and other endemic birds on Galapagos Islands from bird-parasitic flies.

Study ID
Study Status
Start Date
Grant amount awarded
Grant recipient
University of Minnesota
Study country
United States
George E. Heimpel, PhD
Study category
Infectious Disease