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Ectoparasites - Damalinia

Damalinia bovis (Bovicola bovis): Red louse or biting louse of cattle. Common in NZ.

General Description: These lice are small (1 to 2mm long) flattened, wingless insects. Biting lice have broad heads with mouth parts adapted for chewing. There are brown transverse markings on the abdomen.

Life Cycle: Lice spend the entire life cycle on the animal and can survive only several days off the host. The prepatent period is 20 to 25 days.

Location: Skin surface, especially of the neck, withers, and root of the tail.

Geographical Distribution: In cooler areas.

Significance: Biting lice are widespread and important parasites. Itching associated with them reduces thriftiness of the cattle with resulting losses.

Effects on Host: Irritation causes intense itching; animals demonstrate typical parasite worry, not feeding or sleeping well. Scratching may produce skin wounds or bruises and the coat becomes rough. The infestations with biting lice are heaviest in the winter when hair coats are thick.

Diagnostic Information: Lice may be seen on skin, and eggs can be seen as white specks attached to hairs.

Control: Insecticides in sprays, dips, powders, or dusts can be effective.

Damalinia– adult   Biting lice on skin surface

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