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Trichodectes canis
© Zane Publishing · 1
Trichodectes canis
"The Mallophaga are described as wingless (Apterous), hemimetabolous (having a simple metamorphosis i.e. no pupa) ectoparsites (living on the outside of their hosts) of mostly birds but also of some mammals, there are about 2 800 species world wide. The range in size from 0.5 to 10 mm long dorsoventrally flattened with reduced compound eyes and no ocelli. The antennae are 3 to 5 segmented and capitate (with a knob on the end) and recessed into the head in the Amblycera but filiform (thin and linear) in the Ischnocera and may be modifiesd as clasping organs in the male. Their mouthparts are designed for biting and they have no cerci, there is some suggestion that they may have evolved from the Psocoptera (Book and Bark Lice)."-- (Earth Life)

  • Wingless
  • Chewing mouthparts
  • Species on fowl have two claws
  • Species on mammals- one claw

  • Gryopidae
  • Laemobothriidae
  • Menoponidae
  • Philopteridae
  • Ricinidae
  • Trichodectidae

Taxonomic Category Scientific Name Common Name
Phylum Arthropoda Arthropods
Class Insecta Insects
Order Mallophaga Chewing lice

Natural history
Most feed on fragments of hair and feathers though some such as Menocanthus spp feed on their hosts blood as well. Some have formed a symbiotic relationship with bacteria which live in special Mycetocytes in the insects fat reserves, these may help with the digestion of blood etc as individuals deprived of their bacteria die in a few days. They are often adapted to live on particular parts of their hosts bodies, on Pigeons for instance Colombicola colombae is found mainly on the remiges (flight feathers) of the wings while Goniocoles bidentatus tends tobe restricted to the feathers around the neck. They can only survive for a maximun of three days after their host has died and may hitch a ride on a pasing fly (phoresis) in the hope of reaching a new host, they may also use phoresis in order to spread to a new host even if the present one is still alive.

Females lay up to 100 eggs which are cemented to the hair or feathers of the host with a clear fast drying glue which is secreted onto the hair or feather by the female immediately before she lays the egg. The eggs take about 3 or 4 days to hatch and the nymphs go through 3 larval instars in about 20 days before they reach maturity.-- (Earth Life)

Links to other sites

Keith Lee, Ecology Major, University of Georgia
Thanks to Sabina Gupta, Denise Lim, and Dr. John Pickering for technical and web support in developing this page.

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Updated: 2020-08-04 00:43:38 gmt
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