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Protocalliphora azurea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Family: Calliphoridae
Subfamily: Calliphorinae
Genus: Protocalliphora
Hough, 1899[1]

Protocalliphora or bird blowflies are a blow fly genus containing many species which are obligate parasites of birds.[2] Eggs are laid in bird nests. After hatching, the larvae suck the blood of nestlings. They sometimes feed inside the nostrils of nestling birds and destroy the tissue at the base leading to reduced growth of the upper mandible and the young growing with "shovel-beaks".[3] The species overwinter as adults.[4]

The genus is affected by Wolbachia bacteria and it has been suggested that horizontal gene transfer may have led to the difficulty in separating species of Protocalliphora through DNA fingerprinting, with several species possessing identical mtDNA Cytochrome oxidase I sequences.[5]


  1. ^ Hough, G. de N. (1899). "Some North American genera of the dipterous group, Calliphorinae Girschner.". Entomological News (American Entomological Society) 10: 62–66. 
  2. ^ Sabrosky, C. W., Bennett G. F., Whitworth T. L. 1989. Bird blow-flies (Protocalliphora) (Diptera: Calliphoridae) in North America with Notes on the Palearctic Species. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington.
  3. ^ H. Elliott McClure (1962) Ten Years and 10,000 Birds (Concluded). Bird-Banding 33(2):69-84
  4. ^ Stiner, Frederic M. 1969. "Overwintering by Protocalliphora metallica (Diptera: Calliphoridae)". Annals of the Entomological Society of America, Vol. 62(5), 15 September 1969, pp. 1205-1206.
  5. ^ T.L. Whitworth, R.D. Dawson, H. Magalon, E. Baudry 2007. DNA barcoding cannot reliably identify species of the blowfly genus Protocalliphora (Diptera: Calliphoridae). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 274(1619):1731-1739 [1]

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