|Home > Health and diseases > Parasite infestation > Bird lice (mallophaga)|
Biting lice belong to the group of ecto-parasites, which are parasites that live outside
the bird. These flightless insects affect the feathered areas of their host and feed
on the feathers. There are several different varieties of biting lice that all have their
own preference in bird species. All bird lice have nearly the same lifestyle, which is
the reason for them being summarized in this chapter.
Due to their size, which is up to three millimetres, bird lice can be seen with the naked eye. They are often dark-coloured, have six legs and an oblong, slim trunk. They are light-shy and crawl into the plumage when facing direct light, for example by gently moving the primary wing feathers apart. The picture on the right side shows how a bird louse looks like when enlarged four times.
Since lice live permanently in the plumage of birds, they reproduce there as well. They stick their eggs in columns onto the barbs. Within one to two weeks, the eggs hatch to produce larvae, which turn into adult lice within five weeks.
How to discover a lice infestation
The eggs and the larvae are discovered more easily. On the underside of the flight feathers (especially on the wings), a brown discoloration can be seen. The tips of individual feathers are corroded and many have holes in the middle.
It has to be ensured that none of the available anti-parasite treatments - including Exner Petguard - comes into contact with the eyes or the mucosa of the bird!
Which bird species are predominately affected?
German version of this text: Gaby Schulemann-Maier,
All photos and the text on this page are protected by the copyright law. In case you'd like to use photos or texts for your own non-commercial purpose, please contact the author.