("Anoplura" = Sucking Lice)
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[See: Phthiraptera Details]
Phthiraptera (= Anoplura) are the sucking or true lice that are ectoparasitic on mammals (primates, ungulates, canines and rodents). Most important on humans are the head louse, body louse and crab louse. The evolution of these lice with their hosts is closely paralleled. They are small wingless insects that live entirely as ectoparasites on mammals and birds and in the clothing of humans. Their mouthparts are adapted for piercing the skin and sucking the blood of their hosts. The eyes are poorly developed or absent, and there are no ocelli. Antennae are very short with 3-5 joints. The legs are very short and the single-jointed tarsus carries a large curved claw that is well adapted for clinging to the host. The thoracic segments are fused, and a flattened abdomen of nine segments has large pleural areas allowing the body to swell on feeding. There is no metamorphosis.
. The mouthparts are adapted for piercing and sucking blood. The biting lice, Mallophaga, that are not of great medical importance to humans, have chewing mouthparts that feed on scales, feathers, and skin waste (Matheson 1950).
Sucking lice are all permanent ectoparasites of mammals. They have highly modified mouthparts, which when at rest are pulled back within a diverticulum that opens into the lower part of the pharynx at its anterior end. The thoracic segments are fused save for the genus Haematomysus. The tarsi have only one segment and end in a single claw that is adapted for grasping and clinging to hair. Eggs are attached to the host's hair (Fig. 4). [Also see: Phthiraptera Details]
Phthiraptera is a small group of insects with about 230 species. They are all bloodsucking ectoparasites of mammals, and among the four families only the Pediculidae have species that are of medical importance to humans. The following key distinguishes these families:
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