Currently viewing the category: "Louse Flies"
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Subject: Some sort of louse fly?
Location: Burntwood, England
June 12, 2015 3:32 am
I recently found to of these bugs in my flat. I thought they were spiders at first as they crawled around like them, but then I noticed they had small wings and only 6 legs. However, they will not fly at all so I’m guessing the wings are useless for them.
I’ve tried looking up what they are but all I could gather is that they are some sort of louse fly.
Would you be able to tell me exactly what they are? Maybe what their hosts are so I can prevent them from getting into my home?
I live in the West Midlands, the nearest woods/forest is Cannock Chase which is about 1 mile away from me.
It is rather warm at the moment, going into summer.
The photo is the best I could get of it as it kept scuttling around. It is of brown colour and measured about 1cm long (leg to leg).
Signature: Natalie

Louse Fly

Louse Fly

Hi Natalie,
You are correct that this is a Louse Fly in the family Hippoboscidae.  The fact that you are not near woods would not be limitation to the presence of Louse Flies, though we generally think of them as being blood sucking parasites that feed on the blood of deer, sheep or other large animals.  According to BugGuide, they feed on the “blood of birds/mammals” which means they might have a flying host in your home and BugGuide also notes the common name Bird Ticks for Louse Flies.  Pigeons would be a likely host bird, so you might have encountered Pigeon Louse Flies,
Pseudolychia canariensis, that are profiled on Featured Creatures where it states:  “This fly is an obligate parasite of birds, especially feral and domestic pigeons and doves (Columbiformes). It is found wherever pigeons are encountered in tropical, subtropical, and temperate areas with mild winters worldwide.”  Additional information on Featured Creatures regarding the life cycle of the Pigeon Louse Fly states:  “Louse flies have a very interesting reproductive strategy. The female produces one larva at a time and retains the developing larva in her body until it is ready to pupate. The larva feeds on the secretions of a “milk gland” in the uterus of its mother. After three larval instars, the larva has reached its maximum size, the mother gives birth to the white pre-pupa which immediately begins to darken and form the puparium or pupal shell. The pupa of the pigeon louse fly looks like a dark brown, egg-shaped seed. The pupa is found in the nest of the host or on ledges where the birds roost. When the fly has completed its metamorphosis, the winged adult emerges from the puparium and flies in search of a host.”

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Subject: Blood sucker in Poland
Location: Poland
June 3, 2015 1:52 pm
This bug sucked blood from my face after a short hike around a small town Poland. It was about the size of a dime I think. The bite left a small raised bump that went away after a couple hours. Please help!
Signature: Shaun

Louse Fly

Louse Fly

Hi Shaun,
This is a blood-sucking Louse Fly in the family Hippoboscoidea whose members fly feebly and often lose their wings when they land on a warm blooded host.  Louse Flies are often associated with sheep and those species are known as Sheep Keds.
  We are post-dating your submission so that it goes live in mid June.

Thank you so much Daniel for your quick reply! I feel much better knowing
exactly what it is. The no
wings threw me off. Great job, and thanks again.
-Shaun

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Subject: Need help identifying this bug
Location: Vermont
October 22, 2014 3:44 am
We are trying to figure out what type of bug this is. My son felt something on the back of his neck yesterday and took this bug off the back of his neck. He first thought it was a tick but looking at it, it does not appear to be a tick. It has six legs, with hair that you can see on them. It is kind of flat. It was walking sideways (like a crab) on the napkin after taking it of his neck. Any help identifying this would be appreciated.
Signature: Megan

Louse Fly

Louse Fly

Dear Megan,
This is a blood sucking Louse Fly, and we just posted another image of a Louse Fly from Vermont a few days ago.

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Louse Fly

Louse Fly

Subject: Unidentified hitchhiker found in arm hair
Location: Newbury, VT
October 18, 2014 7:50 pm
I returned from a walk in the woods and felt a crawler under my shirt sleeve. I pulled my sleeve back expecting a tick and found this tiny critter instead. He was hanging on for dear life and could not be extracted by hand. We used my “mustache comb” to disentangle it and then snapped some pictures . The last picture shows how small it is compared to a tweezer. It seemed rather soft-bodied…
Signature: Dan in the NEK, VT

Hi Dan,
This is a Louse Fly in the family Hippoboscidae.  According to BugGuide:  “This group includes wingless and winged forms. Most winged ones are dark brownish and smaller than house flies. Flat shape and leathery appearance.”
  Winged species have feeble flight and often loose their wings upon landing on a host animal where they can suck blood.  BugGuide also notes:  “Most are found on birds, others on mammals” and we have discovered that some species are found on livestock and others on deer.  Louse Flies can be opportunistic, and if they cannot locate their typical prey, some will feed on human blood.

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Subject: Flying spider
Location: Estonia
May 30, 2014 11:08 am
Hi!
I found this insect yesterday (May 30th, 2014) from a sink. From afar it looked like a spider, because it has long legs. It is not a spider though, because it has only six legs and also two wings. The interesting thing about this insect is that it does not use its wings at all, no matter how much you poke it. It only runs really quickly, like a spider, seems like it is meant to live on the ground and not fly. The wings also seem too small to support its size in the air. I have never seen anything like it. I live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in town, so my questions are: What is it and how did it get here?
Here are some features I noticed about this insect: It likes to crawl into narrow dark places. Its body ends with a thick and short tube-like part. The mouthparts look like the closed mouthparts of a horsefly. It rubs its front legs like a housefly (as seen on the third picture). The top of its head is dark-red.
First picture: in the sink beside my finger.
Second picture: on glass, picture taken through the glass (bottom view).
Third picture: same as the second picture.
Thank you!
Signature: Andero

Louse Fly

Louse Fly

Dear Andero,
This is a Louse Fly in the family
Hippoboscidae and it is a true Fly, hence the similarities you observed to a House Fly.  Louse Flies are blood sucking insects and those that have wings can only fly feebly.  Generally Louse Flies are very specific regarding the host, which might be livestock and in some species pigeons and other birds, but when the choice host is not available, they have been known to feed from humans.

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Subject: screwworm?
Location: Oman
March 28, 2014 12:29 pm
Hi. I’m on the Arabian coast (Muscat, Oman) and recently found some feral dogs infected with this fly. It was curious to me because it was crawling underneath the coat, down at the skin level, and crawled on the dog as much as flew around him. Kinda hopeful that this is NOT screwworm, because… poor dogs!
Photos taken today (sorry — the fly’s a bit smooshed).
Signature: Char

Louse Fly

Louse Fly

Hi Char,
This looks like a Louse Fly in the family Hippoboscidae.  Louse Flies feed on the blood of birds and mammals.  According to BugGuide “Most are host specific on bird species, with a few occurring on mammals.”  There are species that feed on sheep and deer, but we believe if they do not find a preferred host, they may feed off other species.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination