Currently viewing the category: "Louse Flies"

Bit My Daughter
Location: Upstate New york, Queensbury
November 15, 2010 9:17 am
This little fella bit my daughter this morning. It has 6 legs and almost looks ike a tiny brown cricket. Would love to know what this is.
Signature: Darryl

Louse Fly

Hi Darryl,
Your daughter was bitten by a Louse Fly in the family Hippoboscidae.  You may reference additional information on these biting, blood-sucking flies on BugGuide.  The various species of Louse Flies are often quite host specific, and the hosts include deer, sheep and pigeons, but opportunistic individuals are known to feed off of humans if the primary host is not available.

Thank you so much. We have an abundance of Deer on our property and are in constant battle with their ticks. This is certainly a new one!!

Maybe a louse fly?
Location:  North Idaho, USA
October 7, 2010 12:31 pm
Hi! Last night this strange little bug was crawling around in my hair. Kind of freaked me out. I crushed it while getting it out, but I could see what it looked like. Couldn’t identify it. This morning a similar one was crawling on my brother. He flicked it off into the kitchen sink and it drowned, but we fished it out and took pictures. I’m thinking maybe it’s a louse fly. THe whole creature is about 1/8” long. If I look VERY close I see tiny, tiny wings- no way they’d show up in pictures. Can you tell us about it and what we can do to keep them from crawling around on us?? Thanks!
Signature:  Hannah

Louse Fly

Hello Hannah,
Your suspicion that this is a Louse Fly is absolutely correct.  Considering that you are in northern Idaho, we suspect you might live near either a wooded area where there are deer or an agricultural area where there are sheep herds, two situations that would be conducive to supporting a large population of Louse Flies or Keds in the family Hippoboscidae.  According to BugGuide:  “Most are found on birds
” including the Pigeon Louse Fly.  The University of Florida website has an excellent web page on the Pigeon Louse Fly, and the Neotropical Deer Ked is also featured on a web page on the University of Florida Entomology website.

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.

Louse fly
September 1, 2010 11:13 pm
my wife brought home a dead bird (here in the Catskill Mtns of NY). While examining it, a flat fly -which had a habit of running through the birds plumage- landed on me and went down my shirt. It appears to have bitten me as well on my back.
Q:do I need to worry about transmission of disease w/this species of fly?
Signature: alex mallon

Louse Fly

Dear Alex,
This is a great question and we need to research it, but we can tell you that Flies are probably the group of insects most likely to transmit a disease to a human.  The number of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and flies is extensive.  With that said, we have not heard of a Louse Fly transmitting a disease to humans.  We have taken the liberty of posting an old photo of a Louse Fly sent to us from England to accompany your question.

Location:  israel
August 23, 2010 7:25 am
hi in need help this bug to sting me
and send me to the hospital
Signature:  email

Louse Fly

Dear email,
This is a Louse Fly in the family Hippoboscidae.  Louse Flies usually prey upon birds.  They land on a host and shed their wings after which thy look similar to a louse.

Whats this bug?
April 5, 2010
Hello, the other day whilst inside at home my mum pointed out that I had a bug on my sweatshirt. I picked it off and put it on the table and took a picture of it as non of us could identify it (sorry for the distance from it, it was only taken on my phone which wouldnt focus any closer). My dad thought it was a mite but on googling them it doesn’t look to be one of those. Can you identify it as we are all a bit worried! its okay if you can’t as its not the best picture

Sheep Ked

Dear R.Mackie,
Your photo is lacking in critical detail that will make identification easy, but we suspect we know the identity of your critter.  Do you live near a farm, especially one with sheep?  This looks like a Louse Fly in the family Hippoboscidae, a true fly that begins its adult life with wings, which are shed when a mammalian host is found.  Louse Flies are common ectoparasites on sheep, hence the common name Sheep Ked.  You may read more about Louse Flies on BugGuide.