Parasitology - Nuisance & Biting Flies Flashcards Preview

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Aside from fleas & lice, what are the other types of insects  (Phyla: Insecta) that qualify as parasites of the skin? What is their order?

Diptera - flies


In what family of Diptera insects do nuisance & biting flies fall?

What are the main nuisance & biting flies species or genera?

Family: Muscidae

Nuisance flies:

Musca domestica - house fly, standard fly

Musca autumnalis - face fly

Hydrotaea - head fly

Biting flies:

Stomoxys - stable fly

Haematobia - horn fly



What family of Diptera contains the nuisance & biting flies? 



What are the species or genera of nuisance flies? 

Musca spp: M. domestica, M. autumnalis

Hydrotaea irritans


Musca domestica is also known as house fly or standard fly. Its morphological features are the "standard" against which all other flies are compared. 

Describe M. domestica's appearance in terms of:





Size: ~7.6 mm

Thorax: Grey with longitudinal stripes

Abdomen: Yellow with one black stripe

Mouthparts: No forward-pointing proboscis. Rather, a sponge-like labellum to suck up food broken down by vomited enzymes


What is M. domestica's life cycle? How does this life cycle contribute to M. domestica's ability to transmit disease?

Life cycle (12 days mimumum): Eggs laid in dung → Hatch into larvae → Pupate in manure → Adults (can survive overwintering by hibernating)

The fact that the fly is hatches and pupates in manure means it can easily pick up enterobacteria and other bacteria found in faeces such as E. Coli, Shigella, Salmonella. It can also transmit enteroviruses and some helminths.


Aside from disease transmission, what other pathogenic significance do houseflies (M. domestica) have? 

They cause "fly worry" in cattle, which can cause production losses in terms of reduced weight gain, reduced milk yield, etc.


What is the most numerous nuisance fly causing fly worry in cattle?

Musca autumnalis, aka face fly


What is Hydrotaea irritans and what species does it bother the most?

H. irritans is a nuisance fly in the Musca family that mainly bothers sheep. It is also found on cattle in some areas.


How does H. irritans differ from the domestic house fly, M. domestica, in appearance?

H. irritans has a green abdomen


Why is H. irritans especially bad for sheep? 

H. irritans, aka "head fly", swarms around the sheep's head, rasps the skin before sponging up secretions and exudate with its labellum. 

This can drive the sheep to self-injury called "broken head", leaving it susceptible to secondary infection & blowfly strike.


What is the difference in life cycle between the M. domestica and the H. irritans? 

Where do they lay their eggs?

Life cycle of M. domestica is about 12 days. They lay eggs in dung.

Life cycle of H. irritans is one year because the larvae overwinter, pupate in spring and emerge as adults in summer. They lay eggs in rotting vegetation.


What are the biting flies in the Musca family?

Stomoxys calcitrans - "stable fly"

Haematobia irritans - "horn fly"


How do the mouthparts differ in nuisance flies and biting flies in the Musca family such as Haematobia irritans and Stomoxys calcitrans?

Haematobia irritans and Stomoxys calcitrans both have forward-pointing proboscis, like a hypodermic needle.


What is the distinguishing behaviour of the stable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans? 

It attacks all animals and humans. It "visits" (feeding on) hosts, but flies away and rests elsewhere.


How does the stable fly differ in appearance from the M. domestica?

Instead of a grey thorax with black longitudinal stripes, it has a grey thorax with grey longitudinal stripes, and its abdomen is grey with black spots.


How does the stable fly's life cycle differ from M. domestica's?

Its life cycle takes about one month instead of 12 days, and it lives for another month as an adult. 

Like Hydrotaea irritans, it lays its eggs in rotting vegetation, like straw & hay.


How does the behaviour of the biting fly Haematobia irritans (aka Lyperosia) differ from that of Stomoxys calcitrans? 

“Resident” fly: spends most of time on host (usually cattle). Rests along back, shoulders & side, feeds on dewlap, udder & belly where skin is thinner.
- tend to “face downward” on back.

S. calcitrans is a "visiting fly". 


Haematobia irritans (Lyperosia) & Stomoxys calcitrans look similar, but their life cycles are different in terms of where they lay their eggs. Haematobia, also known as "horn fly", prefers to lay its eggs in a similar environment as M. domestica & M. autumnalis. Where is that?

In dung. 

Haematobia irritans prefers FRESH cattle dung and emerges after just one week. 


Recap all the nuisance & biting flies in the Musca family.

Nuisance: labellum mouthparts

Musca domestica - house fly

Musca autumnalis - face fly

Hydrataea irritans - head fly, causes broken head in sheep

Biting: forward-pointing proboscis

Stomoxys calcitrans - grey stable fly, "visiting" fly

Haematobia irritans (Lyperosia) - horn fly, "resident" fly


What are the biting flies that fall under the "forest flies & keds" category? They are also called "louse flies" because they look like lice.

Forest Flies:

Hippobosca bovis & Hippobosca equina - only attack cattle & horses

Sheep ked:

Melophagus ovinus - attacks sheep


What is bad about the louse fly, Hippobosca equina, in terms of where it is found around horses and where it lives in the UK?

It tends to swarm around the perineal region of the horse.




What is the difference between the sheep ked's (Melophagus ovina) life cycle and the forest fly's (Hippobosca bovis & H. equina) life cycle?

Sheep ked lifecycle is completely on host. Adult female ked deposits single larva in fleece larval ked pupates in fleece → adult emerges a few weeks or months later, depending on temperature.

Forest flies' lifecycle is mostly off the host. Adult fly deposits larva in soilLarva pupate in soil → adult


What are Tse Tse flies and where are they found?

What disease do they transmit?

Tse Tse are biting flies of the Glossinidae family. Both male and female leave painful bites. 

They are found only in Africa.

They transmit Trypanosomes to cause fatal disease, “nagana”, in animals and “sleeping sickness” in humans.


What is the appearance of the Tse Tse fly in terms of size, colour and wing venation? 

See photo

Size: 6-13 mm (medium-sized) 

Colour: Greenish thorax with yellow-brown abdomen

Wing Venation: “Butcher’s Cleaver”



What is special about horse flies in terms of size, wing venation, mouthparts, life cycle & behaviour? 

Size: They are BIG biting flies ~ 2.5 cm long (3x M. domestica)

Wing venation: Closed "discal" cell 

Life cycle (one year): Eggs laid on leaves over H2O larvae fall into H2O →return to land to pupate

Mouthparts: short, strong & down-pointing for slashing & sponging

Behaviour: only FEMALES suck blood


What family of Diptera (order) do horse flies belong? 



Besides Tabanidae (horse flies), which other biting flies lay their eggs on or near water?

Culicoides (midges)Simulium (black flies or buffalo gnats) & Culicidae (mosquitoes)

Culicoides midges - Eggs laid on plants near H2O → larvae → pupae → adults

Simulium black flies/buffalo gnats - Eggs laid underwater → larva emerge & attach to water vegetation → pupate, floating to surface → adult emerges

Culicidae mosquitoes - Raft of eggs laid on water → larva hatch on water → pupate in water → adult


What is the most important genus in the family Ceratopogonidae?

Ceratopogonidae are midges.

The most important genus is Culicoides, which cause sweet itch in horses and are vectors for viral diseases such as Blue Tongue and African Horse Sickness.

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