Scientists seeking to help endangered Galapagos Islands birds survive a deadly parasitic threat put that question to the test. Researchers on Monday described a new method to assist Darwin's finches in combating the larvae of parasitic flies responsible for killing numerous nestlings of the famous birds that helped inspire Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. They placed cotton balls treated with a mild pesticide near where the birds were building their nests. It also kills flies of the species Philornis downsi that was apparently unwittingly introduced by people to the Galapagos Islands and has been blamed for population declines among Darwin's finches, including two endangered species.
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