Sucking Lice

Anoplura. Mammal lice.

Sucking lice resemble biting lice but are immediately distinguished by modification of the mouthparts into stylets for sucking blood from their mammal hosts. None are found on birds. In general, they also are less well sclerotized than other lice, the abdomen having an elastic cuticle, with small, dorsal abdominal sclerites, allowing for considerable distension during feeding.

Hosts include most major groups of placental mammals, excepting, most notably, the bats, anteaters, and aquatic groups, although some highly specialized forms infest marine pinnipeds. The latter are adapted for resisting cold and submersion in water by a dense covering of hydrophobic, scalelike bristles and spiracular valves for closing off the tracheal system when the host dives. Host specificity is less rigid than among the Mallophaga.

Latin American species number approximately 43, classified in only a few of the 15 world families (Kim and Ludwig 1978). Two are major pests of the human body, the human louse and crab louse (see below). Others are widespread forms that infest domestic animals, such as Haemato-pinus, especially the hog louse (Haemato-pinus suis, fig. 7.2a); five species of Solenopotes which live on cattle (another on deer); and Linognathuspeddalis (Linognathi-dae), which parasitizes sheep in South America (Kim and Weisser 1974). Micro-thoracicus mazzai (fig. 7.2c), M. praelongic.eps, and M. minor are found on the llama; the last species is also a parasite of the alpaca, while the second also occurs on the vicuna (Ferris 1951).

Figure 7.2 SUCKING LICE, (a) Hog louse (Haematopinus suis, Haematopinidae). (b) Wild pig louse (Pecaroecus javalii, Haematoponidae). (c) Llama louse (Microthoracicus mazzai, Linognathi-dae). (d) Human louse (Pediculus humanus, Pediculidae). (e) Crab louse (Phthirus pubis, Pediculidae) and egg (nit).

The remainder are found on wild mammals of many sorts. Pecaroecus (Hae-matopinidae, fig. 7.2b) lives on peccaries (Babcock and Ewing 1938). The genera Hoplopleura and Polyplax (Hoplopleuridae) are widespread on rodents.


Babcock, O. G., and H. E. Ewing. 1938. A new genus and species of Anoplura from the peccary. Entomol. Soc. Wash. Proc. 40: 197-210. Ferris, G. F. 1951. The sucking lice. Pacific

Coast Entomol. Soc. Mem. 1: 1-320. Kim, K. C., and H. W. Ludwig. 1978. The family classification of the Anoplura. Syst. Entomol. 3: 249-252. Kim, K. C., and C. F. Weisser 1974. Taxonomy of Solenopotes Enderlein, 1904, with redescription of Linognathus panamensis Ewing (Linognathidae: Anoplura). Parasitology 69: 107-135.

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