Discriminating Fever Behavior in House Flies

Robert D. Anderson, Simon Blanford, Nina E. Jenkins, Matthew B. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Fever has generally been shown to benefit infected hosts. However, fever temperatures also carry costs. While endotherms are able to limit fever costs physiologically, the means by which behavioral thermoregulators constrain these costs are less understood. Here we investigated the behavioral fever response of house flies (Musca domestica L.) challenged with different doses of the fungal entomopathogen, Beauveria bassiana. Infected flies invoked a behavioral fever selecting the hottest temperature early in the day and then moving to cooler temperatures as the day progressed. In addition, flies infected with a higher dose of fungus exhibited more intense fever responses. These variable patterns of fever are consistent with the observation that higher fever temperatures had greater impact on fungal growth. The results demonstrate the capacity of insects to modulate the degree and duration of the fever response depending on the severity of the pathogen challenge and in so doing, balance the costs and benefits of fever.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere62269
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 19 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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