Help! WTF is this bug, and why did I find it on my HEAD!
Location:  Connecticut
September 27, 2010 10:22 am
Hello, for the past 2 days I’ve been paranoid about ticks. I shot my first deer on Thursday, and while skinning it a tick jumped off and landed in my hair. I felt it moving and had a friend pull it off. Today is Monday morning, and after 3 sleepless nights, i come into work on Monday Morning and feel a little itch on the back of my neck. I scratch, but feel the itch a little to the left a few minutes later. I feel something moving between my back hair line and the backside of my ear! I pull off this little guy. I have no idea what it is. I’ve look at all the tick, spider, mite, and bedbug charts but cant seem to find anything that matches. As you can see in the picture it appears to have 4 legs in the rear, and 2 forward legs with a semi-pointed abdomen. It’s about 1/2 a CM in width & Length. Can you please help me identify this thing? I HOPE TO GOD this is just just a normal bug that found it’s way into my clothes last night (Laid them over a travel bag on the floor last night) or my car, etc. THANKS!!!
Signature:  Andrew

Louse Fly

Hi Andrew,
This is a Louse Fly in the family Hippoboscidae.  Louse Flies are true flies that are capable of flying feebly.  They feed on blood of warm blooded animals, and many are relatively host specific, but they are opportunistic and will feed upon a substitute species if the primary host is unavailable.  Louse Flies that feed on sheep are known as Sheep Keds and there is a species found in North America,
Lipoptena mazamae, that is commonly called the Neotropical Deer Ked.  According to BugGuide:  “This fly is a common obligate ectoparasite of New World deer. It has been collected on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) from the southeastern United States to Brazil (Bequaert 1942) and other deer species in the tropics.”  BugGuide indicates the range to be:  “Southeastern United States north at least to Virginia and west to Oklahoma and Texas. South to northern Argentina.”  Just because there are no reports on BugGuide of Neotropical Deer Keds from Connecticut does not mean the Louse Fly you found is a different species.  BugGuide also has this fascinating information on the life cycle of the Neotropical Deer Ked:  “Deer keds 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 falls from the deer and is usually deposited where the deer bedded. When the fly has completed its metamorphosis, the winged adult emerges from the puparium and flies in search of a host. After finding a host the adult fly breaks off its wings and is now permanently associated with that one deer. Both sexes feed on the blood of the host deer. They can live on a deer for up to 6 months.

Wow thanks for the quick response. So it is deer related, and it has been in my hair… oh boy. Do you know if should I used some sort of special shampoo to ensure there are no more, or to kill any of that interesting larvae you mentioned?  Since this appears to be in the early – non reproductive stages, do I even need to worry about larva being in my hair?

Since we are not experts, we generally refrain from giving health advice and we suggest that concerned individuals visit a doctor or clinic.

4 Responses to Louse Fly, possibly Neotropical Deer Ked

  1. Annmarie parsley says:

    I been finding these deer fly louse in long Island, N.Y. too. Do they die in the winter months and or what pesticides can use them? I have to check my dog and me every time me or dog goes out.

  2. VBloch says:

    I have seen these insects in N Idaho for many years, but it was especially bad this year. On a warm late October day, right after it rained, the air was thick with them. Almost like mosquitoes swarming around my head. The area had lots of deer around, but I never associated them with deer although I have seen them on the hide of deer I harvested in the past. Pesky little bugs, took several home unsuspectingly in my hair and clothes.

  3. Andy says:

    Today I went hiking near Coeur D Alene, ID and was covered in these things.
    I guess all the rain we had in October contributed.

  4. Andy says:

    Today I went hiking near Coeur D Alene, ID and was covered in these things.
    I guess all the rain we had in October contributed.

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