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Ectoparasites - Damalinia

Damalinia ovis (Synonym: Bovicola ovis): Biting or chewing louse, red louse.

General Description: Small, wingless insects, 1 to 2 mm. Long, flattened top to bottom. Head is broad and flat with mouth parts adapted for chewing.

Life Cycle: Typical louse life cycle.

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

Geographical Distribution: Worldwide.

Significance: Heavily infested animals do not feed well. Wool growth decreases and body condition may decline, reducing profitability.

Effect on Host: Louse worry, causing biting, kicking, and scratching by sheep. Poor body condition and an unhealthy fleece may be signs. Infestations are worse in winter months.

Diagnostic Information: Nits and adults may be seen in fleece and on skin.

Control: Insecticides may be applied in many ways to sheep to kill lice. Two treatments, 14 days apart, may be required. Lice populations must be observed following treatment, since resistance of Damalinia ovis has been reported.

Damalinia– adult   Group of lice in wool


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