Currently viewing the category: "Louse Flies"

Subject:  What is this flying insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Uppsala Sweden
Date: 07/01/2018
Time: 08:26 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, I found this bug on my arm when I got back from a forest hike. It was tricky to get off and even trickier to kill. It’s body was very flat and it survived three squashes (finally killed it the fourth time). What is it?!
How you want your letter signed:  Nicely?

Louse Fly

You were wise to swat this blood-sucking Louse Fly.  Though Louse Flies typically feed off wild animals like deer and domestic animals like sheep, they are opportunistic and will attack humans if there is no other prey.  To the best of our knowledge, they do not spread diseases.

Subject:  Bug found in hair
Geographic location of the bug:  My head
August 28, 2017 4:02 AM
Hi, I found this single bug in my hair. It is about 2mm in size, and was a honey brown color. My husband checked my head pretty thoroughly and doesn’t see anything else. It doesn’t look exactly like a louse but I can’t tell what else it might be. Help!
How you want your letter signed:  Scared

Louse Fly

Dear Scared,
Knowing the geographic location of your head at the time this sighting was made would be very helpful.  We don’t know if you found this Louse Fly in Lithuania, in Oman or in New York.  Louse Flies are blood-suckers that generally feed on livestock like sheep, or on large mammals like deer, but they are opportunistic and they will bite and feed off humans if other prey is not available.  The good news is that they will most likely not reproduce and infest your head, wherever it is located. 

Hi Daniel – sorry about that. I am in Connecticut. So are you saying it’s a louse fly and not headlice?

That is exactly correct.  Louse Flies often lose their wings when they find prey.

Subject: Louse type fly ????
Location: Armagh Northern Ireland
July 2, 2017 4:29 am
Hi I woke up last night with something clinging to my neck swiped it off and in the morning kept getting bothered by this tenacious beast it had a very solid hold on my skin and clothing (so assume it has claw like feet) and was not overly excited until I took it out into the light in the glass then it seemed to go berserk to get out of the light. There is a green tinge to the legs, and wings fold flush to the body like an insect that would shed the wings ? Pictures are ‘lousy’ I know but any help would be great. There are sheep in the nearby fields.
Signature: Scott

Louse Fly

Dear Scott,
Your images are not ideal, but we believe you are correct that this is a Louse Fly in the family Hippoboscidae.

Hi Daniel many thanks my first encounter with one but no bites I think.
All the very best Scott

Subject: Brown bug
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
May 25, 2017 5:44 am
Hi wondering if u could tell me what type of bug this is as I keep getting them in my bathroom
Thanks Angela Williams
Signature: Angela Williams

Louse Fly

Dear Angela,
This is a blood-sucking Louse Fly, and depending upon the species, they normally prey upon deer, livestock especially sheep, or nesting birds like pigeons.  If you live near woodlands with deer or farms with sheep, you might not be able to control their presence.  If pigeons were nesting in your eaves, and the yong have flown, you might want to try removing old nests to see if that helps to control their presence in your home.  If Louse Flies cannot feed on their prey of choice, they might try taking human blood.

Subject: dark room bug
Location: Dubai
May 25, 2017 3:26 am
Dear Bugman,
Please help me identify this bug
I work in a dark laboratory and almost every week this bug attacks my face or hides on my head scarf (black).
I attached a picture of the bug
Signature: Shaima Askar

Louse Fly

Dear Shaima,
This sure looks to us like a Louse Fly, but finding it in a dark laboratory is a mystery.  Louse Flies are blood suckers that are often found near livestock, especially sheep.  Is there any livestock near your Dubai laboratory?  Some Louse Flies prey upon birds like nesting pigeons.  If the nestlings have flown, remaining Louse Flies might be bothering you for a meal.

Dear Mr.Daniel,
Thank you very much for the fast reply. You are 100% right ..the bug in the Picture looks exactly like the louse fly  ..I’m amaized how fast you recognized it . I think the reason behind the fly is probably in pigeons because the lab is on the top floor and near the door leading to the roof I’ll have to inform someone to check if there are any nest there or something.
Thank you again

Subject: Found Bug
Location: Wind Gap, PA
November 17, 2016 11:43 am
We found this on a student today. Any ideas?
Signature: Doug Bartek

Louse Fly

Louse Fly

Dear Doug,
This is a blood-sucking Louse Fly or Ked in the family Hippoboscidae.  There are both winged and wingless species, and some winged species lose their wings once they find a host.  Hosts include deer, sheep or birds, depending upon the species of Louse Fly, but they are also opportunistic feeders that will bite humans if no preferred animal host is available. We found a marvelous article on Louse Flies by Meredith Swett Walker on the Entomology Today website where it states:  “Hippoboscid flies are fairly particular about their hosts. Sheep keds are not found on birds or vice versa. There are more than 200 species of Hippoboscidae, and 75 percent of these parasitize birds of various types ranging from tiny swifts to huge albatrosses. Some louse-flies even exhibit distinct preferences for a particular species of bird. One species of hippoboscid is found exclusively on frigate birds and another species parasitizes only boobies. This specificity is seen even when the two seabirds nest in densely-packed, mixed colonies where it would be easy for a hippoboscid to fly from one bird to another.
Thankfully, hippoboscids do not parasitize humans. In 1931, G. Robert Coatney conducted an experiment to determine if pigeon louse flies, Pseudolynchia canariensis, would bite humans and survive on human blood. He must have been very persuasive because he convinced two friends to join him in playing host to the flies. The answer is yes — hippoboscids will bite humans when given no other choice of host, and their bites are definitely itchy. But the flies did not survive long or reproduce when fed only human blood. Granted, Coatney’s experiment was limited in sample size and scope, but hopefully no one feels the need to repeat it.”

That is awesome!! Thank you so much for the info!!