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Information on the basics of Entomology
An Introduction To The Study of Entomology 1
Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda: Class: Insecta: Order: Mallophaga
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All species are apterous, although it is believed that they lost wings in evolution, which is evidenced from thoracic sclerites. There is a gradual metamorphosis. The various families of biting lice are confined to definite groups of birds, indicating that evolution of the parasites has proceeded along with that of their bird hosts.
The common hen-louse, Menoponpallidum is an
example. The head is semicircular in
form and articulates with a prothorax that is freely movable on the rest of
the body. A tagma is formed by the
fusion of the meso- and metathorax with the abdomen. The mouth is situated ventrally on the
head and surrounded by biting mandibles and less prominent 1st and 2nd
All stages occur on the host and reproduction is continuous. Although birds are the primary hosts Mallophaga are also found on mammals occasionally. Birds that have become infested often exhibit the habit of "dusting", which cuts down on the number of lice. High infestations will cause a loss of weight and lowering of egg production in fowl, whereas small birds are often killed. Humans are never attacked.
When Mallophaga occur on birds they possess two claws, while on mammals only one claw is present.
Eggs are laid separately on feathers or hairs and the life cycle is completed in about a month, the young instars resembling the adult in form and habit. They are spread very rapidly through bodily contact. They crawl on the ground during the day and return to their host at night.
Mallophaga used to be controlled by dusting their poultry hosts with insecticides. Restrictions on such practices for public health reasons have made it exceedingly difficult to control these insects. When poultry are raised for the production of eggs and meat it is best to corral them in open fenced yards on the ground. In this way the birds are able to dust themselves with soil and thereby reduce louse infestations significantly. Such operations are not always economically practical, however, because of the additional space required and the difficulty of harvesting their eggs.