What’s this bug?
I found this crawling on my goats and wondering what it is. I am in Vermont. Thanks
Ed. Note: After a very embarassing misidentification that we thankfully did not post, Chas sent us the following response. While researching, we found his images posted to BugGuide with a dialog series of responses debating Sheep Ked, Melophagus ovinus, versus Deer Ked, Lipoptena cervi.
Thanks for your help. … One of the other suggestions I have had is a Ked in the Family Hippoboscidae, Lipoptena cervi or Melophagus ovinus. If it is one of these keds, it’s important for me to find out wich one to decide if it is a real problem to my goats…. No apologies necessary. I really appreciate you lending your knowledge and experience on the topic. So you agree with the deer ked ID? I am trying to figure out if they are something to worry about. From what I understand the deer ked can only reproduce on deer, but not other mammals. I do wonder if my goats are close enough to deer to be a suitable host, though. There is also a similar bug, the sheep ked, that might be more of a problem for my goats. But I checked the goats closely today and I didn’t find any more keds and no sign of sheep ked (pupa or the blood waste from adults), so I think we are probably all right. Thanks for your help.
Hi Again Chas,
We don’t possess the necessary skill to identify this Louse Fly to the species level. Louse Flies are true flies that resemble ticks. We do have some information from Hogue’s book, Insects of the Los Angeles Basis, that in a general way, might be helpful. There are many species of Louse Flies, and some are even parasitic on birds. They are ectoparasites, and feed on blood. Here is some of Hogue’s information: “Upon emerging from the pupa, this fly – which possesses wings that are fully developed although fragile – flies among the trees or shrubs in search of the host (it can survive at this stage for only a few days in the absence of the normal host). Upon successfully finding a deer, it immediately crawls through the hair to the skin and begins to suck blood. Here it remains as a permanent parasite, soon losing its wings through wear. … All Louse Flies are blood suckers, although none feeds regularly on humans. They may transmit disease between wild animals but not to and between people. Development of these flies is of a special type: the larva is not free-living but matures within the body of the female parent. When the puparium is formed, the female deposits it on the host whence it soon falls off onto the ground.” So, chances are very good that whatever the species, your Louse Fly will not become an infestation.