The Allegheny woodrat (Neotoma magister) is a species of high conservation concern and relatively well-studied with respect to habitat use/associations, food habits, conservation genetics, and population trends. However, with the exception of raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) occurrence and etiology in woodrats, most disease and parasite ecology aspects for the woodrat are unknown. Herein, we examined the prevalence of bot flies (Cuterebra) over nearly three decades of woodrat surveys (1990–2018) in the central Appalachian Mountains of western Virginia. We use genetic analyses to identify recent bot fly specimen collections from a woodrat captured in 2017. Though highly variable from year to year, the overall prevalence of parasitism was low (typically < 4% of captures). As such, bot flies do not appear to be a widespread parasitic burden to Allegheny woodrats in Virginia. Genetic analysis of four collected bot fly larvae was inconclusive, as the genetic signature of these woodrat bots did not match any of the six bot species known to parasitize rodents and lagomorphs in the eastern United States. Further collections and genetic analyses will be needed to determine if the genetic database is incomplete or incorrect, or if our find is a new species of bot fly not yet taxonomically recognized.
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Vol. 184 • No. 1