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© 2018, The Author(s). The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010 had unprecedented impact on the Gulf of Mexico. We established the greenhead horse fly (Tabanus nigrovittatus Macquart) as a bioindicator of marsh health. This species is bound to coastal marshes, since its larvae develop as top invertebrate predators in the marsh soil. Immediately after the oil spill (2010–2011), populations of this horse fly declined in oiled areas of Louisiana marshes with significant impacts on genetic structure. In this follow-up study five years after the catastrophic event (2015–2016), we now report signs of recovery of populations in formerly oiled areas. Fly numbers increased compared to previous counts. Previously detected genetic bottlenecks in oiled populations have disappeared. Migration into oiled areas began to replenish formerly depleted horse fly populations in impacted regions with populations from non-oiled areas as an important source of migrants. Parameters of family structure that had been impacted by the oil spill (number of breeding parents, effective population size, number of family clusters) rebounded to levels similar to or exceeding those in non-oiled control areas.

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Scientific Reports