Comparison of Pallid Swift Apus pallidus diet across 20 years reveals the recent appearance of an invasive insect pest

Cristiano L., Lantieri A., Boano G.

156 386
Read Article     Download


The diet of the Pallid Swift Apus pallidus in a NW Italian breeding colony was examined in the summers of 2012 and 2013 to compare the current diet against those assessed more than 20 years earlier (1987-1990). By screening 5980 prey items found in food boluses brought by adults to nestlings we identified 37 families or superfamilies pertaining to 8 arthropod orders (Araneae, Coleoptera, Diptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, Mallophaga, Odonata, Hemiptera). The highest percentage of prey was represented by Hemiptera Homoptera (42.9%) and Diptera Brachycera (21.6%), but we also found a good number of Coleoptera (7.0%). We did not find any significant differences in diets after 20 years when comparing prey abundance at higher taxonomic levels, but in the more recent samples, beetles were mostly (above 70%) represented by the allochthonous corn pest Diabrotica virgifera, a species totally absent in Italy before the year 2000. We conclude that swift colonies can destroy a huge number of agricultural insect pests, and perhaps even more importantly, regularly checking the swift`s diet at specific localities could be a useful tool for monitoring changes and the biodiversity of flying insects in anthropized ecosystems.