Fast facts about Mallophaga (biting lice)
As can be seen in the bird louse above the antennae are small. Usually there are only 3 - 5 segments, and the whole thing may be hidden in a groove in the head.
The legs are usually adapted to cling firmly to the host, and end in two claws.
Louse body shape can vary according to the location on the body the louse specializes in. Those inhabiting the main feathers are usually long, whereas those feeding near the neck tend to be rounder.
Size varies, but is usually less than 5 mm in length.
Biting lice feed mainly on particles of feather, fur and skin. Some do feed on blood, but usually from existing wounds. There are some species that do bite through the skin of the host though.
Females can lay 50 - 100 eggs which are cemented to the feathers or hair of the host. Nymphs and adults look alike. From egg to mature adult takes 3 - 4 weeks.
Above is the dog biting louse, Trichodectes canis. It is brownish in colour, under 2 mm long and flattened from back to front. It can be seen with the naked eye, and is easily confused with the dog sucking louse, Linognathus setosus. The sucking louse has a narrower head and is greyish. However the treatment to get rid of them is easy and the same for both, Frontline combo or Advantix.
Lifecycle. The eggs are laid at the base of the hair to which they stick. In the nymphal stages the appearance is similar to the adult. The entire life cycle takes place on the dog's body.
The louse eats dead skin, and is most commonly found around the ears, neck along the backbone to the base of the tail. Lice are transferred between dogs by direct contact, and they will cause the dog to scratch.
Above is Culutogaster sp. a feather louse. Adults are 1 - 2 mm long.