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Research Article

A New Threat to Honey Bees, the Parasitic Phorid Fly Apocephalus borealis

  • Andrew Core,

    Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Charles Runckel,

    Affiliation: Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Jonathan Ivers,

    Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Christopher Quock,

    Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Travis Siapno,

    Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Seraphina DeNault,

    Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Brian Brown,

    Affiliation: Entomology Section, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, California, United States of America

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  • Joseph DeRisi,

    Affiliation: Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Christopher D. Smith,

    Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • John Hafernik mail

    acore13@yahoo.com

    Affiliation: Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, United States of America

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  • Published: January 03, 2012
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029639

Reader Comments (8)

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Horrible news

Posted by babygrrl27 on 20 Aug 2012 at 21:58 GMT

Phorid flies are a threat to many. I do not agree with the unleashing of them to get rid of fire ants. I believe they are opening a whole other problem by doing so, and that it could lead to much larger issues... Such as this with the honey bee. They can invade a living human, and actually live inside a person. And, I suppose in theory, can spread CJD (the human form of mad cow disease) to living people... They carry the disease from a deceased person and spread it to the living. CJD was recognized fairly recently, and there is no way of knowing when someone who died from what was thought to be Alzheimer's, when it was actually from CJD, since they mirror the same symptoms. Alzheimer's is not contagious though. Since I'm on the subject, I am concerned that if one cow in a herd has BSE (I believe the latest case was at a farm in CA), further tests should be done on the other cattle at this farm. How did that one cow contract the disease, and no others? Is the disease spread in more ways than have been noted? Can Phorid Flies carry the disease and, more importantly, spread it as has been suggested?

No competing interests declared.

Phorid flies and prions

MattJHodgkinson replied to babygrrl27 on 21 Aug 2012 at 12:19 GMT

A connection between insect vectors and transmission of prion disease has been proposed, but not demonstrated, see Lupi, O. (2003), Could ectoparasites act as vectors for prion diseases?. International Journal of Dermatology, 42: 425–429. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-4362.2003.00345.x and Lupi, O. (2006), Myiasis as a risk factor for prion diseases in humans. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 20: 1037–1045. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2006.01595.x

However, the species of Phoridae flies that can cause myiasis in humans (the scuttle fly Megaselia scalaris, and occasionally Dohrniphora cornuta) are not the same as those used in fire ant control (mainly Pseudacteon spp. for Solenopsis fire ants), and both are different to the species that may infect bees (Melaloncha spp., Apocephalus borealis).

Competing interests declared: I am an Associate Editor for PLOS ONE