These unusual flies are blood-sucking ectoparasites on birds and mammals. Both males and females suck blood, but their bite is not painful. They are called louse flies when they occur on birds, and keds when they occur on mammals. They are 4-7 mm long, somewhat flattened, and winged or wingless. Most of the winged forms are dark brown; the legs are widely separated, and the abdomen of the female is membranous. The palpi are elongate and slender, and form a sheath around the proboscis. All species are larviparous, females rear one larva at a time internally; development is completed in 3-8 days. The anterior end of the larva is enclosed in the anterior part of the uterus and receives nourishment from a specialized gland (milk gland). When the larva is full-grown the abdomen of the female is distinctly swollen; when the larva is released from the abdomen it immediately forms a puparium. Formation of the puparium takes about 1 h and development to adult takes 20-30 days; the pupa may overwinter. Puparia may be in the nest material or attached to the hair or feathers of the host.

Pest status is based on the movement oflice flies indoors and biting people. This usually occurs in the spring before the host birds return to the nest sites, and the adult flies have emerged and are seeking a blood meal. Deer keds infrequently bite people when they occur in barns. Humans are not a preferred host for these insects, but there are records of some louse fly species biting people, including Crataerina pallida, Hippobosca equina, H. camelina, H. variegata, H. rufpes, Melophagus ovinus, Lipoptena cervi, L. depressa, and the pigeon fly, Pseudolynchia canariensis.

Swift louse fly, Crataerina pallida Adults are about 6 mm long and light to dark brown, and the body is somewhat flattened, leathery, and with strong setae. This species is found on swifts (Apus apus), butitalso occurs on swallows and martins. Feeding occurs every 3-6 days; the adult louse imbibes nearly its own weight in blood from the host. Emergence begins at the end of April or early May when swifts return to breed, and peaks by the time the young birds are sufficiently feathered to serve as adequate hosts. The louse population declines before the birds migrate. The seasonal infestation lasts about3.5 months. Pupae overwinter in the deserted nest, and the next generation of adult flies emerges after the birds return in the following summer. If the nest is notreoccupied, the flies will crawl away in search of food; they can live for long periods without food. They may enter rooms ofhouses thathave swifts nesting under the eaves. They sometime find harborage in bed frames and in the sheets and blankets.

Martin louse fly, Crataerina hirundinis Adult females are about 6.2 mm long, pale to dark brown. The body is flattened and the abdomen leathery and without distinct segments. This species is parasitic on house martins (Delichon urbica), and sometimes swifts, and sand martins (Riparia riparia). It feeds daily on host birds, and adult flies will move between adjacent nests to feed. Emergence of the adult louse flies is in May when the host birds return to nest sites. The population peaks in August and September, but may extend into September or later. A few lice may be carried away with the birds in the feathers, but louse flies are not known from the winter nesting sites. This species may have two generations per year, perhaps due to the extended breeding season of the house martin. These louse flies may enter rooms indoors and bite people in the spring, before the host birds have returned.

Deer keds, Lipopterna depressa, L. cervi, L. mazamae, Neoli-poptena ferrisi Adults are 4-6 mm long, winged or wingless, and the body is reddish brown. They have well-developed wings when they emerge from the puparium, and may fly in search of a host. The puparia are shiny brown to black, and rounded. Emergence of adults begins towards the end of summer, and continues in fall. Infestation is high through the winter. Wings are shed when they become established on a host. Larvae deposited by the female are yellowish white, and there is a black cap at the posterior end (which includes the spiracles). Some larvae are deposited while the female is still on the host animal, and they may be trapped in the fur for a short time, but most larvae are deposited while the host is resting. These species are found on European deer, mule deer, Virginia white-tailed deer, and wapiti. Lipopterna mazamae occurs on deer in South and Central America, and in southwestern USA. In fall, winged individuals may fly to barns, and there they sometimes bite humans.

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