25 Parasitism Examples: Complete Beginner’s Guide!

To understand parasitism as a concept, the section on ‘Definition of Parasitism’ with sub-sections ‘Introduction to Parasitism’ and ‘Types of Parasitism’ can guide you to a clear understanding of the topic and will shed light on the different ways in which parasites interact with their hosts. 

These subsections will help identify the different types of parasites and their impact on the host, ranging from least harmful to life-threatening.

parasitism examples

Introduction to Parasitism.

Parasitism is a relationship between two organisms, where one gains benefits from the other’s expense. 

parasitism examples

The parasite lives on or inside the host, taking nutrients and sometimes causing harm. This connection can be between different species or within the same species

To survive, parasites have adopted various tactics such as manipulating the host’s immune system or behavior.

Knowledge of parasitism is very important for fields like ecology and medicine. The effects of parasitism range from minor discomfort to fatal disease. Tapeworms, lice, and malaria are some examples of parasites found in humans. They can also influence wildlife populations by changing their behavior or mortality rate.

Parasitism has even shaped human history. For instance, Malaria might have contributed to the fall of Rome and the colonization of America, due to spreading illnesses among native populations.

In Kruger National Park, Africa, a male giraffe had deep neck lesions caused by oxpeckers pecking away at parasites around its wounds. This ultimately led to death through infection, if not spotted earlier.

In conclusion, parasitism can be summarized as one organism getting a free ride while the other gets screwed.

Definition of Parasitism.

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Parasitism is a relationship between two organisms. One organism, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the other, the host. It can live on or in the host, weakening it or causing harm. The parasite derives nutrition from the host without offering anything in return.

This relationship alters the host’s behavior, morphology, and physiology. Parasites can be protozoans, bacteria, fungi, insects, or other animals. Parasitism affects the ecosystem in many ways, like nutrient cycling, biomass production, and decomposition.

The Greeks were the first to recognize parasitism as a pathological condition. Today we know that organisms are interdependent, with parasitism being one of the ways they form relationships. 

From freeloading roommates to bloodthirsty mosquitoes, parasitism is everywhere.

Types of Parasitism.

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Parasitism is a peculiar phenomenon, where one organism benefits at the cost of the other. Here are some types of parasites:

Types of Parasitism Description 
EndoparasitesLives inside the host’s body.e.g. roundworms or tapeworms.
EctoparasitesLives on the outer surface of the body. e.g. lice or ticks.
HemiparasitesPlants that require nutrients from a host plant through a specialized structure, the haustorium.
Obligate ParasitesCompletely dependent on host survival. e.g. mistletoe on trees.

From living inside their host’s body to depending on other organisms, parasites adapt to thrive in a particular relationship with their host, causing varying degrees of harm. 

Believe it or not, even cooperative relationships can be parasitic-like. For instance, farmers rely on pollinators like bees for fertilization services – in exchange for nectar.

Recently, in Cambodia, a new “vampire” plant species was discovered; it feeds off another plant, attaching itself to its stem and siphoning its nutrients! What’s more, the host plant grows unaffectedly alongside its vampire guest! 


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  • Internal parasites, also known as endoparasites, are organisms that reside within their host bodies. They can cause harm by consuming nutrients or damaging tissues and organs. 
  • Endoparasites include worms, protozoa, and bacteria. People and animals can become infected through ingestion or absorption. Examples of endoparasites in humans are tapeworms, roundworms, and Giardia.
  • Endoparasites can be found in the gastrointestinal tract as well as other areas, such as blood vessels and organs.
  •  Some parasites have complex life cycles with multiple hosts, while others only require one.
  •  The effects of endoparasites vary depending on the type and the host’s health.

Not all internal parasites cause harm. Some can have beneficial effects, like aiding digestion or preventing other harmful parasites from infecting the host.

A study published in Clinical Microbiology Reviews found that 1 billion people have at least one type of parasitic disease. 

It is important to practice proper hygiene to reduce the risk of parasitic infections. Ectoparasites, those found on the outside of the body, can also be gross.


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  • Ticks, fleas, lice, and mites—they’re all ectoparasites that love warm climates! Ticks feed on host blood for days before falling off. 
  • Fleas can jump multiple body lengths to latch onto new hosts. Lice lay eggs on hair or feathers near the skin. Mites cause skin irritations like mange.
  • To protect your pet from ectoparasite infestations, keep them clean and groomed. 
  • Regularly check for signs of skin irritation. Treatment options include medicated shampoos, topical applications, or oral medications from a vet.

Remember: Preventive measures are key to keeping your furry friends healthy and free from parasitic infections… and intestinal parasites? Sharing’s not always caring!

Intestinal Parasites.

Parasites living in the intestines of humans or animals are known to cause digestive problems. 

These can be categorized as endoparasites: 

  1. Nematodes:Nematode worms, for instance, cause ascariasis, hookworm infections, and trichuriasis.
  2. Trematodes: Trematodes are flatworms that affect those who consume contaminated water or raw fish. 
  3. Cestodes. Cestodes are tapeworms that grow by consuming nutrients from the host’s intestines.

These parasites can lead to malnourishment and anemia, among other things.

A highly prevalent parasite is the giant roundworm Ascaris Lumbricoides. It infests over 800 million people yearly, according to the CDC.

A case in Nigeria showed a lady suffering from severe stomach pain and diarrhea due to the ingestion of Ascaris Lumbricoides eggs from eating raw vegetables with contaminated soil while planting in her garden.

Obligate parasites: the ultimate freeloaders.

Obligate Parasites.

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  • Obligatory parasites are those which can only survive and reproduce inside a host organism. They require the host for nutrients, energy, and other needs, weakening its immune system. Examples are Plasmodium vivax and Herpes simplex virus.
  • These parasites have a specific life cycle. Some need multiple hosts to complete their growth. 
  • A parasitic wasp, for instance, lays its eggs in another insect’s body. This parasite usually shows morphological modifications that let it attach or infect the host easily.
  • Transmission of these parasites can be via biting insects or polluted water sources
  • Prevention is very important, as these parasites cause serious illnesses like Malaria and Leishmaniasis, leading to chronic health issues.

Social Parasites: When traveling or camping in areas where these parasites live, it’s key to take protective measures and care for personal hygiene. One wrong move can cause an invasion of obligate parasites!

When being surrounded by people who drain your emotional energy is worse than being alone.

Social Parasites.

  • These creatures are known for settling in colonies, communities, and societies of other species. They need their hosts for survival, as they get food, shelter, and reproductive chances from them. 
  • Parasitic bees, wasps, and ants that take their host’s resources for their gain are examples of social parasites. They can bamboozle host workers into feeding them or lay eggs in their host’s nest for their young to use the host’s resources.
  • Social parasites control the social behavior of their hosts by chemical cues or by behaving like them. Tactics include copying their host’s pheromones or chemicals or taking advantage of gaps in the host’s defense. After infiltrating the colony, these parasites depend on hosts to care for their larvae.
  • Some species depend entirely on social parasitism to live, like cuckoo bees, and cannot survive on their own.
  •  Hosts have evolved to fight against social parasite attacks, using chemical defenses and specialized antennae.
  • To guard against social parasites, hosts should keep genetic diversity high in their population, and remove sick individuals from colonies. 
  • Also, setting physical barriers to limit access, and reducing communication between groups, will help to avoid social parasite attacks. 

But, if you think being single means you’re safe from parasites, you haven’t heard of free-living parasites!

Free-living Parasites.

Parasites can be free-living. That means they get their nutrition from something outside of another organism. Find them in soil, water, or plants. But they don’t need a host to survive.

Different types of free-living parasites exist, such as,

  1.  Nematodes: Nematodes can be found in the soil and feed on bacteria
  2. Fungi: Fungi consume decaying matter and help with nutrient cycling.
  3. Bacteria.

. Even more bizarre; some of these free-living parasites have medicinal properties. Streptomyces coelicolor, a bacterium, makes antibiotics used in medicine.

Examples of Parasites.


Parasites are diverse and can harm their hosts.

Some to be aware of:

  • Protozoa: Single-celled organisms that can cause malaria and amoebic dysentery.
  • Helminths: Worms living in intestines or tissues, causing tapeworm infection and schistosomiasis.
  • Lice: Small insects that suck blood, leading to discomfort and disease.
  • Fleas: Another blood-sucking bug that can give you plague and typhus.
  • Ticks: Arachnids that feed on blood, such as Lyme disease.

Beyond these, there are lots of other parasites. Take care to prevent them with good hygiene and regular vet visits for pets.

 Disinfect your body! Stay safe.

Examples Of Parasitism.

To understand and recognize the different types of parasitic relationships between two organisms, the sections will provide a solution. 

This will allow you to better identify parasites and vectors such as ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes that cause harm to the host. 

With concise examples, this section will help you learn about different types of parasites and their life cycles.


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  1. Malaria is a huge global health issue, especially in warm, tropical areas. It mainly affects young kids and pregnant women who don’t have any protection against the disease. 
  2. Furthermore, people traveling to places with Malaria are also at serious risk.
  3. To avoid getting Malaria, people should sleep in rooms with air-conditioning or use nets treated with insecticides outside. 
  4. Also, wear long clothes to cover the skin and use mosquito-repellent creams.

Pro Tip: If you have flu-like symptoms after visiting a Malaria-affected area, seek medical advice quickly. This will help diagnose Malaria in time and treat it before it becomes worse.


  1. Fasciolosis is another one of the most common parasitism examples.
  2.  A group of microorganisms called liver fluke cause this disease in the host body.  
  3. Fasciola hepatica is a parasitic worm that infects ruminants like sheep, cattle, etc, and causes fasciolosis
  4. It can also infect human hosts rarely


  1. Ascariasis is a disease caused by a parasitic nematode species Ascaris. It infects human hosts generally. 
  2. The species Ascaris Lumbricoides is the most popular human parasitic species under the genus. 
  3. An infected individual increases parasitic eggs through the faces in soil and when another one consumes some plant materials and the attached parasitic eggs, that person gets infected.


  1. Taeniasis is parasitism caused by the Platyhelminthes species Taenia solium
  2. In this disease, the Taenia species infect the intestine host. 
  3. The infection lasts for up to two to three years in an individual. 
  4. It can cause severe medical conditions in the human body. 

Hookworm infection.

  1. Hookworm refers to a group of parasitic species typically belonging to the genera Ancylostoma.
  2.  There are blood-feeding parasites that generally infect human hosts. 
  3. Ancylostoma duodenale is one of the most common hookworms which infect humans as their primary host.


  1. Diphyllobothriasis is one of the most common parasitism examples. 
  2. A common tapeworm species Diphyllobothrium causes this infection in the human body. 
  3. As a result of consuming raw fish regularly, the parasite infects the human body and causes diphyllobothriasis
  4. In this disease B12 deficiency and gastrointestinal obstructions, fatigue may happen.


  1.  Bloodsucking arachnids, patiently awaiting their host. With sharp mandibles, they latch onto skin and feed for days
  2. Transmitting various diseases, they prefer grassy forests, shrublands, and fields.
  3. At each life stage, they feed on blood. After the larval stage, they fall off and molt into the next. Nymph and adult phases involve attaching to a new host.
  4. These creatures are well equipped; their hard exoskeleton resisting desiccation. Plus, anesthetic-like saliva numbs hosts, often going unnoticed until bloated with blood.

Believed to date back over 100 million years, a species called “Dracula’s terrible tick” was discovered in amber from Burma. 

Partly developed wings suggest they detached from dinosaur corpses and flew away in search of new lifeless bodies.


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The tiny arthropod, found on cats and dogs, is well-known for its amazing jumping and biting habits. This pesto is an illustration of ectoparasites; feeding on the host’s blood for existence and propagation. Being without wings, fleas use their powerful hind legs to jump onto their unsuspecting victim and start their meal.

Fleas have a complex life cycle that includes four stages: 

  • Egg: Eggs hatch in some days and become larvae.
  • Larva: Larva eats organic material such as adult flea poop.
  • Pupa: Pupae can stay dormant for weeks or months before maturing into adults ready to jump onto a host for food.
  • Adult

Though we may think of fleas as just a nuisance to our pets’ comfort, they carry potential health risks to both animals and humans. Flea bites can cause allergic reactions in pets that put them in danger of secondary infections caused by scratching and other injuries and also transmit diseases like murine typhus and plague among humans.

Pro Tip: Regular grooming can help stop flea infestations in pets, as well as keep bedding areas clean to reduce suitable breeding grounds for fleas.



Leeches help us in medicine. Plus, they’re part of aquatic ecosystems too! Some eat decomposing matter, breaking it down further. Others host smaller parasites; creating a complex community in the environment.

Fun fact: In 2005, scientists found a new leech species in Kenya’s Lake Naivasha. It only feeds on hippopotamus blood! Roundworms have no backbones, but they sure know how to get what they want from their hosts.


  1. Scabies is also one of the most common parasitism examples. 
  2. A parasitic mite species called Sarcoptes scabiei caused the disease
  3. The parasite mostly infects mammalian species including dogs, cats, ungulates, bovids, ko, alas, and also humans.

Body Lice.

  1. Body Lice or body lice are parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans as an ectoparasite.  
  2. The species Pediculus humanus humanus do not directly live on the host body; they stay mostly on the clothing and come in contact only for feeding. 
  • Head lice.
  1. Head lice or head louse are one of the most common parasitism examples. 
  2. They infect human hosts and live as ectoparasites on the scalp.  
  3. They are slightly different from the body louse. 
  4. The head louse generally lay eggs on the hair of their hosts and sucks blood from the scalp.


  1. Roundworms can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, and malnutrition
  2. They can even migrate to other parts of the body, causing serious issues. 
  3. To avoid infection, wash your hands and cook food properly
  4. Treatment involves medication from a doctor.

Pro Tip: Regular deworming can help stop roundworm infections in humans and animals.


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  1. Protozoa are single-celled microorganisms from the kingdom Protista
  2. They are found in water and soil, and some are parasites that cause disease in humans and animals.
  3.  Protozoans have complex insides and can move using cilia, flagella, or pseudopodia.

The following table shows examples of parasites, their hosts, and the diseases they cause:

Parasite NameHost(s)Example Diseases
Plasmodium falciparumHumansMalaria
Trypanosoma bruceiHumans & Animals (Tsetse Flies)African Sleeping Sickness
Giardia lambliaHumans & Animals (Beavers)Giardiasis
Entamoeba histolyticaHumans & PrimatesAmoebic dysentery

Protozoans differ in structure, function, reproduction, and life cycle. But what makes them unique is their ability to live inside a host’s intestines. This leads to infections and diseases.

Plasmodium falciparum causes over 200 million cases of malaria per year, WHO reports. 

Who needs vampires when mosquitoes can suck your blood for free?


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  1. This pesky insect is known for its bite which can cause an itchy, red welt
  2. It needs blood to survive and can reproduce quickly, making it one of the most dangerous creatures on the planet due to its potential to transmit diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and Zika virus.
  3. The female mosquito usually feeds on humans or animals while the male prefers plant nectar. 
  4. It can lay hundreds of eggs at a time in standing water. These eggs will hatch into larvae and pupae, before transforming into adult mosquitoes.
  5. Mosquitoes serve as a vector for many lethal diseases. 
  6. To protect yourself from them, wear clothing that covers your skin, like long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  7.  Clothes treated with repellents work even better. Removing any standing water from around your home also helps eliminate potential breeding sites.

It is crucial to take action in controlling the mosquito population since they are a serious health risk worldwide

To protect yourself from mosquito bites, use mosquito nets or other preventive measures, like sprays or repellents containing DEET when you travel or spend time outdoors in mosquito-infested areas.


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These tiny creatures, usually under 3mm in size, are known for infesting humans and animals. They feed on blood from the skin. Lice cause itching and skin irritations. 

There are three types; 

  • Head.
  • Pubic.
  • Body lice. 

They rely on their host to survive and reproduce.

Lice have no wings but use their hook-like claws to cling to hair strands. They can lay eggs in a matter of days. Then, they feed on blood from the scalp, genitals, or clothing fibers. Lice in children are common due to shearing combs and hats.

It’s been suggested that even ancient civilizations had lice infestations. Mummies have been found with proof of lice from centuries ago.

  • Wasps.
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  1. Wasps are beneficial insects that play a vital role in controlling crop populations. They lay their eggs inside other insect hosts, like caterpillars, beetles, and spiders. This causes the host to become a food source for the larvae, ultimately leading to its death.
  2. Wasps are also great at detecting and exploiting vulnerable hosts, so they make a valuable contribution to maintaining ecological balance. 
  3. Furthermore, some wasp species also help with plant pollination and seed dispersal.
  4. It is essential to keep the environment safe, by avoiding harmful pesticides which could also affect these beneficial insects. 
  5. To protect biodiversity and maintain healthy ecosystems, it is important to understand the complex relationships between organisms in nature.

By recognizing examples like wasps; who have co-evolved with their prey over millions of years; we can better conserve biological diversity and work towards achieving sustainable development goals.


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  1. The relationship between aphids and trees is another one of the most common parasitism examples.
  2.  In this relationship, the aphids, and sap-suking worms infect several plant species and harm them intensely.


  1. Galls are a kind of disease or more specifically say swelling at the outer tissues of plant species caused by gall wasps. 
  2. Different mites, viruses, and fungi can cause gall or plant tumors which are very harmful to the host species.

Haustorium of Mistletoe.

  1. In plant species, the haustorium of Mistletoe is one of the most common parasitism examples. 
  2. Mistletoe parasitic species develop a rootlike structure on the host Plant species through which it absorbs nutrients and water. 


  1. Giardiasis is one of the most common parasitism examples. 
  2. In this disease, the parasite Giardia duodenalis infects human hosts
  3. An infected individual may experience diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weight loss due to giardiasis.


  1. Toxascaris is a parasitic helminth belonging to the phylum Nematoda
  2. This species is parasitic on mammals including dogs, cats, foxes, mice, rats, etc
  3. Humans are not generally infected by them.


  1. Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. 
  2. It generally infects domestic cats. 
  3. Eating undercooked meat containing Toxoplasma eggs or contact with the cat’s litter box can also be the reason for toxoplasma infection in humans. 


  1. Amoebiasis is a parasitic disease caused by the infection of the protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica
  2. It is very harmful to their hosts, having the ability to kill them also. 
  3. Its primary hosts are humans and other primates.


  1. Enterobiasis is a parasitic disease caused by the helminth parasite Enterobius vermicularis
  2. It primarily infects humans as well as other primates including Orangutans, chimpanzees, etc.
  3.  The main symptom of this infection is itching in the anal area of the body. 

Lymphatic filariasis.

  1. Lymphatic filariasis is another one of the most common parasitism examples. It is caused by the nematode parasite Wuchereria bancrofti. 
  2. Different mosquito species spread Wuchereria infection. 
  3. The mosquitos are the intermediate host and humans are the definitive hosts of the Wuchereria parasite. 


  1. A parasitic worm Coccidia can develop the disease Coccidiosis in its host body
  2. It infects human hosts and damages intestinal cells. 
  3. As a result bloody, watery diarrhea, and dehydration is seen.


  1. Gapeworm is a parasitic worm species that primarily infects poultry bird species like chickens, turkeys, etc.
  2.  It lives on the host’s trachea and lays eggs on it. 
  3. The infection increases the mortality rate of the hosts by nearly 25% and rapidly spreads among other species.

Cymothoa exigua.

  1. Cymothoa exigua is a parasitic louse that infects fish species. 
  2. It enters through the gill of the fish and then gradually attacks the tongue of the host fish
  3. After cutting off the tongue the parasite attaches on that side. It is also known as a tongue-eating louse. 

Gyrodactylus salaris.

  1. Gyrodactylus salaries are generally known as salmon fluke, one of the most common parasitism examples
  2. It infects salmon fish and attaches them. 
  3. Simultaneously releasing proteolytic enzymes the parasite dissolves the skin of the fish and sucks it.

Carp lice.

  1. Carp lice or Argulus is a parasitic louse that infects fish carp species
  2. In this case, the lice live on the skin of the carp host and feed on the mucous and skin cells of it. Adult parasites feed on the blood of the host from fins.
  3. These are some very common parasitism examples in which the parasitic species lives on or inside the body of its host, depends on it for nutrition, and on the other hand harms the host species as a typical parasite.

Parasitism examples in plants.

In the environment, we can see different kinds of parasitism examples in plant species.

  1. Aphids are parasitic insects that hat sucks nutrients from a host plant.
  2.  Gall wasps are another plant parasite that develops swelling or gall in the outer tissues of the plant and sucks nutrients. 
  3. Mistletoe, Cuscuta, and Rafflesia arnoldii are parasitic plants that suck water, and nutrients from the host tree and use them to climb up.

Parasitism examples in the ocean.

Just like the land environment, we can see parasitism examples in oceans also. 

  1. Cymothoa exigua is found in the ocean which eats the tongue of the host fish and lives in that place.  
  2. Sacculina barnacle is a marine parasite that lives on crab hosts and manipulates their behavior
  3. Placentonema gigantism is the world’s largest nematode endoparasite which lives in the uterus or placenta of sperm whales. 

Brood parasitism examples.

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Brood parasitism is a type of breeding strategy in which the young offspring (parasites) depend on the host species to raise them and give parental care to them.

  1. Brood parasitism is mostly found in bird species.
  2.  In the case of indigobirds, whydahs, Cuckoos, and black-headed ducks, interspecific brood parasitism is found. 
  3. In the case of Mochokidae catfishes brood parasitism is found. 
  4. Some brood parasite insects are found including Polistes sulcifer which depends on the host species to raise the offspring.

Brood Parasitism.

Nest Parasitism is a type of parasitism where species lay eggs in the nests of other species, and the host parents raise the young as their own.

 Parasitic birds have evolved to have an eggshell resembling the host bird’s egg, to avoid detection. 

They use tactics such as trickery and aggression to remain undetected and stay in host nests. Interestingly, hosts with artificially enlarged eggs have some protection against brood parasites, as it becomes harder to identify them.

Pro Tip: Brood parasites are skilled at luring potential hosts by imitating songs and pretending to be wounded birds. So, hosts should verify any unknown bird before allowing them into their nest. 

Parasites have a simple life cycle: latch on, suck the life out, then repeat; like their version of Netflix and binge-watching!

Desert parasitism examples.

Parasitism is also seen in desert environments.

  1. Mistletoe is a parasitic plant found in the desert areas. It depends on its host plant for nutrition. It creates a structure made up of plant tissues called haustorium, through which it absorbs water and nutrients from the host plant. 
  2. Dodders or Cuscuta is another parasitic plant found in desert environments.

As a whole, we can say that parasitism is one of the most common relationships between two species in nature. There are several kinds of parasites found in different parts of the world.

Life Cycle Of Parasites.

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In this section, we will talk about these sub-sections; how parasites lay their eggs, how they rely on an intermediate host and a definitive host to survive, and how their presence can cause harm to the host’s body.

Lay Their Eggs.

Parasites reproduce by oviposition, which is when they lay their eggs in a host.

The eggs can be placed on the outside or inside of the host, depending on the species. This is an important step in the parasite’s life cycle, as it marks the beginning of a new generation.

Different species of parasites have different strategies for reproduction; some lay just one egg, while others may lay many, depending on factors like the environment or availability of hosts.

Surprisingly, some parasites can even manipulate their host’s behavior to create conditions that are favorable for their offspring

For example, some parasites may cause infected snails to climb higher on tree trunks and branches, to aid in the development of their eggs.

Intermediate Host.

An organism that has a parasite in a certain phase of its life cycle and provides the environment for its growth is known as an Intervening Host.

 To understand the life cycle of a parasite, it is essential to know the role of Intermediate hosts

This table gives info on different types of Intermediate Hosts and their corresponding parasites:

Type of Intervening HostName of ParasiteConditions Required for Development
MollusksSchistosoma haematobiumFreshwater.
ArthropodsPlasmodium spp.High humidity & warm temperature.
FishDiphyllobothrium latumAquatic Environment.
PlantsMeloidogyne incognitaLow oxygen tension.

These hosts don’t harm humans or definitive hosts, but they are very important for the transmission and survival of parasites.

So, it is important to have proper prevention measures against these intermediate organisms. Ignoring these can lead to major health issues in both humans and definitive hosts. We can stop infestations by understanding the relationships between intermediate hosts and parasites. 

If you ever become a definitive host to a parasitic worm, at least you will have a purpose in life!

Definitive Host.

The definitive host is the primary host where a parasite reaches maturity and reproduces. 

It can be a vertebrate or invertebrate, depending on the type of parasite. Examples include humans for Plasmodium falciparum and cows for Taenia saginata.

In some cases, more than one definitive host is necessary. For instance, Schistosoma mansoni requires humans to harbor sexually matured parasites that mate inside their blood vessels, as well as aquatic snails to provide a suitable environment until later stages.

Failure to identify the definitive host can have dire consequences, so it’s best to take preventive measures. Avoid exposure to environments with unfavorable hosts and take immunization vaccines where needed

Get informed and protect yourself and others from parasitic infestation!

Harm to the Host.

Parasites can cause major issues for their hosts

They can lead to organ damage, and nutrient deficiencies, and make it easier to get other illnesses. This happens because the parasite takes the host’s resources for survival and growth, which harms the host’s body.

Plus, the infection can spark an inflammation that damages host tissues. This leads to feeling sick, fever, and weakness due to the immune system trying to fight off the parasite. 

Also, parasites can change host behavior for their benefit.

Pro Tip: It is important to detect and treat parasitic infections quickly to avoid long-term harm. Regular check-ups and good hygiene help prevent these infections in homes and outdoors.

Symbiotic Relationship In Parasites.

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To understand the intricacies of symbiotic relationships in parasitism, we present the sub-sections given below for a clear and better understanding. 


Symbiosis, a close relationship between two different species, is when both parties benefit. 

Mutualism is one type of symbiosis, where each species provides something the other needs, and both are better off.

Ants and aphids have a mutualistic relationship. The ants protect the aphids and eat their sugary secretions. In turn, the aphids feed on plants and produce honeydew for the ants.

Mutualism is extremely specific; certain fungi can only partner with one type of plant or animal species. For example, the yucca plant relies on a specific companion moth for pollination.

To sum it up, mutualism is a type of symbiosis where both partners gain something. They have a give-and-take relationship that hat helps them survive and flourish.

Pro Tip: Gardens which promote biodiversity can lead to increased ecosystem health, encouraging mutualistic relationships between species.

Parasite Benefits at the Expense of Host.

Symbiotic relationships occur when two or more species interact and rely on each other for survival. 

Parasitism is one such relationship. Here, the parasite benefits and prospers, whilst the host suffers.

Parasites exploit their hosts by using their resources to feed, take shelter, and reproduce. This can cause significant damage or death in the host.

Parasites also manipulate their hosts’ behavior and physiology to increase their chances of survival. They may control the host’s brain and nervous system, making them act in ways that favor the parasite.

Pro Tip: Identifying parasites early is crucial; it reduces damage to wildlife and human health.

Sexual Parasitism.

The phenomenon of sexually parasitic relationships involves one partner benefiting without providing anything in return. This can be seen between humans, animals, and various organisms. One is the parasite, and the other is the host. The parasite profits from the host, often causing great damage.

Parasites often manipulate their hosts into providing them with food or shelter. They are usually smaller than their hosts and attach to them, drawn by cues like light or smell.

This type of symbiotic relationship can have a big effect on biology and evolution. Parasites may evolve special adaptations to exploit their hosts more effectively, negatively impacting their health.

 This can lead to reduced lifespan, fertility, and immune function, reducing resources available for other activities.

Understanding this complex relationship from an ecological perspective is key to managing parasites and conserving endangered species

Ignoring the gaps in knowledge increases the risk of extinction due to human activities like land-use change and climate change.

Genetic Material Transfer.

 Hereditary info is a basic part of biology, showing how organisms change and work. This act, dubbed the transfer of genetic material, is vital in the survival and evolution of species.

Unique processes, like horizontal gene transfer (HGT), involve genetic material exchange between different species or even kingdoms. 

Astonishingly, this evolutionary mechanism brings new genes and traits resulting in adaptive success. 

Moreover, lateral gene transfer is similar where closely related bacteria may swap plasmids that carry various genes.

Researchers once believed that vertical inheritance was the sole way for hereditary info transmission until they uncovered HGT. 

Over time, scientific exploration revealed that both modes were significant in forming biodiversity. 

Parasites may be freeloaders, but their interactions with their hosts make for a strange yet captivating love story!

Parasite Interactions.

To understand the relationship between parasites and their hosts, we need to explore the different types of interactions that exist between them. 

This section will highlight the dynamics of these interactions and the benefits and harms associated with them.

  1. Predator-Prey Relationships.

Parasites and their interactions with different ecosystems play an important role in maintaining balance. An example of this is the Semantic NLP variation of “Predator-Prey Relationships”.

Let’s take a look. We can use a table to show this. In the first column, we list predator species. The second column records their prey. For example, African lions hunt warthogs, zebras, gazelles, and buffalo. Chimps, however, eat termites, ants, fruits, and nuts.

There are also some unique examples of predator-prey relationships in nature. Rodents and rattlesnakes have a mutualistic relationship to avoid predation.

Early humans also used tactics like these for hunting. By watching which animals predators targeted, they could pick suitable prey for themselves without becoming prey too.

  1. Interactions with Their Hosts.

Parasites have diverse connections and interactions with their hosts. These can result in varied consequences for both. Relationships vary from mutualistic to parasitic, commensalism, and amensalism.

To comprehend these connections, we can look at the following table:

Interactions with Their HostsDescriptionExamples
MutualismBoth organisms benefit.Bees pollinate plants.
ParasitismOne organism benefits while harming the other.Tapeworms live in the intestines of host animals.
CommensalismOne organism benefits without affecting the other.Barnacles attach themselves to whales.
AmensalismOne organism is harmed while the other is not affected.An elephant stepping on an ant.

Parasites have evolved unique mechanisms to manipulate their hosts. These are usually complex and involve biochemical communication between parasitic molecules and host cells.

Some parasites can even modify host behavior to make sure they are transmitted to new hosts. For instance, Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan parasite, reduces rodent fear of cats, which enables its transmission from rodents (intermediate host) to felines (definitive host).

It’s estimated that around half of all species on Earth rely on a parasitic lifestyle for part of their life cycle. So, remember, having parasites can be a matter of life and death! 

Get yourself some parasite insurance before your body turns into a playground for these uninvited guests.

  1. Keep the Host Alive.

Both organisms must ensure the survival of the host in parasitic interactions. Here’s how:

  1. Spot it Early: Watch out for the signs and symptoms of a parasitic infection to prevent any further harm.
  2. Get Treatment: Provide timely, effective treatment to eradicate parasites.
  3. Nutrition Matters: Ensure hosts get proper nutrition to build immunity and resist parasites.
  4. Hygiene Habits: Keep up good hygiene practices like handwashing and cleaning living spaces to reduce infection risks.

Hosts have special adaptations to combat diverse parasites. These include genetic traits to boost immunity, physical barriers, specialized blood cells, camouflage, etc.

Pro Tip: Monitor hosts regularly to detect illnesses before they worsen. 

Without hosts, parasites would be unemployed quicker than a social media influencer in a pandemic!

Hosts And Their Role In Parasitism.

To understand parasitism in-depth, we need to examine hosts and their role in parasitism. This section will explore how the relationship between two species can lead to one being completely dependent on the other.

Completely Dependent on Host Species.

Host dependency can differ between parasites. Some are reliant on their host species for survival and reproduction. They can’t finish their life cycle unless in their host’s body or environment.

To get a better grasp of the dependence, we can look at a table. For example, the malaria parasite (Plasmodium falciparum) needs humans to thrive. 

On the other hand, the tapeworm (Diphyllobothrium latum) requires fish and humans as intermediate and final hosts, respectively.

Parasites also have specialized structures and adaptations that let them exploit their hosts. For example, many helminths have a tailored organ to attach to certain host tissues.

Tip: Factors like health, age, nutrition, and geographical location can affect a host’s susceptibility to certain parasites. So, these must be taken into account when studying parasitism in different populations.

Who needs foes when you’ve got hosts parasitizing you from the inside?

Ways Hosts Parasitize Humans.

The bond between hosts and humans is intricate, and can often end badly. Hosts can use humans for food or shelter, causing damage or spreading diseases in the process

Some hosts pretend to be harmless and then attack, while others form beneficial relationships.

 Lice and ticks attach to humans and suck blood for their existence, creating discomfort and spreading Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Prions are virus-like molecules that cause brain damage in humans when ingested.

Parasites can control the behavior of their human hosts to help them survive. For instance, when a parasite infects ants, it makes them climb to a place where they can release more spores for further infections.

A study found that Toxoplasma gondii makes infected mice attracted to cat urine, increasing the chance of being eaten by cats, and aiding its growth and spread.

Research has shown that Echinococcus granulosus tapeworms infect people in Indonesia who eat raw animal material, like organs or muscles, from infected cattle or pigs.

The Harvard Gazette reported that around one-third of the world’s population has come into contact with tuberculosis bacteria at some point in life.

Parasites may be capable of controlling humans, but they’re not winning any love from them.

Harmful Effects of Parasitism.

Parasitism can have disastrous effects on both the host and the parasite. The host’s health can suffer due to the parasite consuming its nutrients. Plus, parasites can release toxins or allergies that can cause significant harm to the host’s body and immune system.

It can also lead to economic losses in industries like agriculture and aquaculture. Additionally, parasites can change the host’s behavior, resulting in reduced fitness and reproduction.

To reduce the harm of parasitism, it is essential to have proper hygiene. It’s also crucial to treat parasitic infections using medication and vaccines.

Education about parasite life cycles and transmission methods is essential for preventing infestations among humans and animals.

Efficient pest management strategies such as natural predators or pesticides can help prevent losses in farming. 

In conclusion, to effectively fight parasites, society must act together by adopting healthy practices and promoting research into treatments, vaccines, or eradication programs.

Share Parasites.

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To understand the concept of shared parasites, let’s delve into the relationships between parasites and their hosts.

In this section, we will explore the unique dynamics of shared parasites in these three sub-sections.

Among Humans.

Parasites can be spread through skin contact, food, or fluids. They can cause mild to life-threatening issues and can go undetected for long periods.

 To prevent transmission, practice good hygiene and avoid contact with infected persons. Additionally, consume cooked food properly.

Many are unaware of the risk posed by parasites. Therefore, educating society on prevention and early detection is essential

To protect yourself, remember the knowledge needed. Take measures now to stop the spread of parasitic infections among humans!

Between Parasites and Hosts.

Parasitic Relationships: Mutualism, Commensalism, and Parasitism.

The relationship between parasites and their hosts can be broken down into three types: 

  • Mutualism is when both parasites and the host benefit. 
  • Commensalism is when one organism benefits without harming or benefiting the other. 
  • Parasitism describes a situation where the parasite benefits, while negatively affecting the host.


Type of RelationshipDefinitionExample(s)
MutualismBoth benefitBees and flowers
CommensalismOne organism benefits, other is not affectedBarnacles and whales
ParasitismParasite benefits, host negatively affectedFleas on dogs
  • Parasites’ Life Cycles.

Parasites have different life cycles depending on their characteristics.

 Some have complex life cycles with many stages, occurring across multiple hosts

Others have simpler life cycles, happening solely within one host. 

Note: Some parasites can only complete their life cycle in certain hosts.

  • Suggested Practices for Managing Parasitic Infections.

Good hygiene is essential for preventing parasitic infections.

 Wear appropriate clothing to avoid tick-borne diseases such as Lyme

Treat pets regularly for parasites. Avoid areas known to have a high presence of certain parasites.

“Being a shared parasite is like being a virus with a better PR team – you spread and spread, without anyone even realizing it’s happening!”

Between Hosts.

Parasites in host communities are often shared between them, forming complex transmission dynamics

A host can have various parasites, transmitted through vector bites, direct contact, and environmental contamination.

 Here’s an example of some parasites transmitted between hosts: 

  • Malaria is transmitted through mosquito bites.
  • Hookworms, passed through soil contamination.
  •  Lyme disease spread through tick bites.

 Certain parasites even have specialized strategies for exploiting their hosts, such as certain parasitic wasps injecting their eggs into caterpillars, which then grow inside the host and eventually kill it.

Remember: Regular deworming and hygiene practices can help stop the spread of parasites between host communities. So, don’t share – it’s just gross!

Frequently Asked Questions.

Q1. What is parasitism?

A: Parasitism is a type of symbiotic relationship between two organisms in which one species benefits at the expense of another species called a host. The parasite may rely on a third organism called a vector to transfer it from one host to another.

Q2. What are some examples of parasitism?

A: Some examples of parasitism include a tick on a mammal, malaria on a human, a flea on a dog, leeches on a bird, and endoparasites such as intestinal parasites.

Q3. What are the different types of parasites?

A: There are many types of parasites, including social parasites, predator parasites, free-living animals, obligate parasites, and sexually transmitted parasites.

Q4. Can parasites kill their host?

A: Yes, some parasites would kill their host while completing the life cycle. The harm caused to the host by parasites includes the withdrawal of water and nutrients from the host’s body.

Q5. How do parasites interact with their hosts?

A: Parasites interact with their hosts based on their interactions, such as predator-prey relationships. Parasites that live inside the host’s body are usually obligate intracellular parasites, while parasitic plants make their hosts provide them with water and nutrients.

Q6. Do humans get parasitized?

A: Yes, humans can also get parasitized, and some examples of parasites that parasitize humans include the louse, mosquito, roundworm, protozoan, and more.

Q7: Can parasitism be mutualistic?

A: Yes, there are cases of mutualistic parasitism, in which both the parasite and the host benefit from the symbiotic relationship.

Q8: Can you give some examples of parasitism?

A: Some examples of parasitism are fleas on a dog, ticks on a deer, tapeworms in a human’s intestine, and mistletoe on a tree.

Q9: Can there be more than one parasite on a host?

A: Yes, many organisms can have multiple parasites on or inside them.

Q10: How do fish get parasites?

A: Fish can get parasites from the water they swim in, other fish they come into contact with or the food they eat.

Q11: Can plants be parasitized?

A: Yes, some organisms can parasitize plants by living on or inside them and harming their growth or reproduction.

Q12: What is the symbiotic relationship in parasitism?

A: The symbiotic relationship in parasitism is one in which the parasite benefits at the expense of the host.

Q13: Why do parasites need to overcome their hosts?

A: Parasites must overcome their hosts to survive and reproduce, as they rely on the resources provided by the host to do so.

Q14: Can parasites infect humans’ eyes?

A: Although animals are more commonly infected by eye parasites, there have been cases of intestinal parasites migrating to the human eye.


Parasites are plants and animals. For instance, the parasitic plant leeches from its host species. And lice and roundworms are animal parasites. Then we have sexual and brood parasitism. Sexual parasitism steals genetic material. Brood parasitism is when eggs are laid in another bird’s nest to reduce parasitism. Understanding parasites is essential. They interact with their hosts in various ways. Free-living animals may share parasites. Obligate intracellular parasites form a predator-prey relationship inside cells. We must stay informed about parasites. This includes their types, effects on organisms (including humans), and unique life cycles based on interactions with hosts.

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