Based on your answers to the questions, you have identified your insect as being in the order Phthiraptera, suborder Mallophaga: the chewing lice!
Members of this suborder include: chewing lice, including bird lice and biting lice.
• small (10 mm or smaller)
• dorsoventrally flattened
• chewing mouthparts
• small compound eyes, absent altogether in some species
• no ocelli
• antennae, if visible, with three to five segments
• hard larger than the thorax
• forelegs held up near the head
• hemimetabolous metamorphosis (egg — nymph — adult)
Number of species worldwide:
These chewing lice are parasitic on animals. They are ectoparasites, meaning that they feed at the surface of the host animal. (An endoparasite lives inside the host's body. An example of an endoparasite is a tapeworm.) In this case, the chewing lice eat such things as feathers, hair, scales and dried blood.
For a list of all of the orders in this key, click here: List of Orders.
Mallophaga was once described as an order rather than a suborder. Today, the classification of this group is still in flux. Some scientists have now discarded the name Mallophaga altogether, and instead split the group up into three separate suborders:
• Rhyncophthirina, which are the elephant lice and warthog lice
• Ischnocera, which include lice that are parasitic on mammals and birds
• Amblycera, which also include lice that are parasitic on mammals and birds
In this key, we are using the classification that places only two suborders within the order Phthiraptera: suborder Mallophaga and suborder Anoplura.
Oops! If this doesn't appear to be the correct identification for your insect, go back through the key and look more carefully at your insect while answering the questions again. Your perseverance will reward you!
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