Linnaeus, 1758) (Phthiraptera: Amblycera, Menoponidae) a rare parasite of the Eider

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Trinoton querquedulae (Linnaeus, 1758) (Phthiraptera: Amblycera, Menoponidae) – a rare parasite of the Eider (Somateria mollissima Linnaeus, 1758)
Sławomira Fryderyk
Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology, University of Gdańsk, 59 Wita Stwosza Street, 80-308 Gdańsk, Poland


Key words: Trinoton querquedulae, Eider, Somateria mollissima, chewing lice, infestation

In October 2006 an individual of the Common Eider (Somateria mollissima) was examined and 1 female of Trinoton querquedulae was found on one of the remiges. This species of lice was recorded on the studied host for the first time in Poland. Up till now, T. querquedulae has been noted on this duck only in Belgium. Considering the extremely scarce information available, this species of lice is most probably rare in the Common Eider.


Chewing lice (Amblycera, Ischnocera) are highly specialized parasites of birds and mammals. They feed mainly on dermal debris, feathers, hair, and skin secretion. Among the largest lice are those of the genus Trinoton, which can be 5-6 mm in length. They have numerous and diverse setae, large and strong legs, which enable them to move freely among the feathers. Apart from feathers, lice can also feed on blood [1]. Chewing lice are parasites of Anseriformes; 5 species were recorded in Poland: T. anserinum (Fabricius, 1805), T. luridum Burmeister, 1938, T. nyrocae Eichler, 1943, T. querquedulae (Linnaeus, 1758), T. spinosum Piaget, 1880 [2-4]. Pathogenicity of these lice is not well studied, but Cohen et al. [5] reported that T. anserinum could transmit filariasis in swans.

Trinoton querquedulae was recorded in different countries all over the world. The Teal (Anas crecca Linnaeus, 1758) is its typical host, however it was also noted on other bird species like: the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos L., 1758), domestic duck (Anas platyrhynchos f. domesticus L., 1758), Pintail (Anas acuta L., 1758), South Georgia Pintail (Anas georgica Gmelin, 1789), Shoveler (Anas clypeata L., 1758), Australasian Shoveler (Anas rhynchotis Latham, 1802), Gadwall (Anas strepera L., 1758), Chestnut Teal (Anas castanea Eyton, 1838), Grey Teal (Anas gracilis Buller, 1869), Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa Gmelin, 1789), Pochard (Aythya ferina L., 1758), Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula L., 1758), Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra L., 1758), Pink-eared Duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus Latham, 1802) and the Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa Gould, 1841) (e.g. 3, 6-13].

In Poland this species was reported from several zoogeographic regions. As the domestic duck is one of its hosts, it is most probably distributed all over the country [2, 3]. Except for the domestic duck, T. querquedulae was found in Poland on the Mallard, Gadwall, Garganey (Anas querqedula L., 1758) and the Teal [3, 14, 15].

This species was recorded on the Eider only once - in Belgium [16]; the present study supports previous finding, moreover it is the first record of T. querquedulae on this host in Poland.
Material and methods

In October 2006, I examined an individual of the Eider (Somateria mollissima), which drowned in the fishing nets in Gdańsk Bay. The feathers were thoroughly examined for lice starting from the head, then neck, back, rump, belly, wings and legs. One specimen of Trinoton querquedulae was found and used to prepare a permanent slide using polyvinyl lactophenol mountant.

Results and discussion

I recorded one female of T. querquedulae (Fig. 1) on the wing of the eider duck – on one of the remiges. Previous study on the other hosts of this louse showed that this species could be found all over the body of the bird, particularly at the base of the bill [17]. T. querquedulae was most often noted on the domestic duck and Mallard, while on the Eider was recorded only once – in Belgium [16].

Other lice species were also recorded on the Eider, i.e. Anaticola mergiserrati (=Anaticola rubromaculatus) (De Geer, 1778), Anatoecus icterodes (Nitzsch, 1818), Anatoecus dentatus (Scopoli, 1763) [16, 18]. Still information on the ectoparasites of the eider ducks is scarce, despite the species could be numerous in some regions of Europe and North America. Up till now no information on the lice of the Eider was available from Poland. This could be due to the fact that this bird species is one of the least numerous sea ducks regularly wintering in Poland, while breeding only exceptionally [19]. Moreover it was also supported by the structure of examined birds – there were only 3 eider ducks among over 150 ducks, which were collected [20, 21, unpublished data].

Usually intensity of invasion of T. querquedulae even in typical hosts is very low, while some increase in number of lice on the domestic ducks is noted in spring [22]. Within 12 mallards examined in Turkey, one specimen of this louse was recorded on one bird only [13], however higher infestation of this host was recorded by Złotorzycka [3] (2.2 individuals). Heavy invasion is noted rarely. However when it occurs then strong feather abrasion is observed, particularly on the back of the bird [22].

The specimen of the louse recorded in this study was measured. Its measurements (total body length 5.61 mm) correspond to data given by other researchers (from about 4.50 mm to 6.10 mm; Table 1).

To conclude – both the results of this study and scarce information on the occurrence of Trinoton querquedulae on the Eider show that it is rare species of this host.


[1] Saxena A.K., Agarwal G.P., Chandras S., Sigh O.P. 1985. Haematophagous nature of Trinoton querquedulae (Phthiraptera: Amblycera). Angewandte Parasitologie 26: 205-208.

[2] Złotorzycka J., Modrzejewska M. 1988. Wszoły Mallophaga. Katalog Fauny Polski. Cz.XIX, zesz.1. PWN Warszawa: 1-223.

[3] Złotorzycka J. 1990. Katalog Fauny Pasożytniczej Polski. Cz. IV. Pasożyty ptaków. Zesz. 3. Pasożytnicze stawonogi. PWN, Warszawa Wrocław: 1-365.

[4] Kadulski S. 2007. Wszy i wszoły (Phthiraptera). In: Fauna Polski – charakterystyka i wykaz gatunków. Vol. II. (Eds. W. Bogdanowicz, E. Chudzicka, I. Pilipiuk, E. Skibińska) Muzeum i Instytut Zoologii PAN, Warszawa: 329-341.

[5] Cohen S., Greenwood M.T., Fowler J.A. 1991. The louse Trinoton anserinum (Amblycera: Phthiraptera), an intermediate host of Sarconema eurycerca (Filarioidea: Nematoda), a heartworm of swans. Medical and Veterinary Entomology 5: 101-110.

[6] Clay T., Hopkins G.H.E. 1950. The early literature on Mallophaga. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Entomology 1: 221-272.

[7] Blagoveshtchensky D.I. 1958. Mallophaga and Anoplura of the animals of the Wrangel Island. Entomologiczeskoje obozrienije 37: 374-379.

[8] Canaris A.G., Mena A.C., Bristol J.R. 1981. Parasites of waterfowl, from southwest Texas: III. The green-winged teal, Anas crecca. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 17: 57-64.

[9] Palma R.L., Barker S.C. 1996. Phthiraptera. In: Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol.26. Psocoptera, Phthiraptera, Thysanoptera (Ed. A. Wells). CSIRO Publishing, Australia: 81-247, 331-361.

[10] Castresana L., Notario A., Mateo P.M. 1999. Study of the ectoparasitic mallophaga of Anatidae (Insecta, Mallophaga) in the Iberian Peninsula. Identification, biometric characteristics and biological aspects. Zoologica baetica 10: 63-86.

[11] Price R.D., Hellenthal R.A., Palma R.L., Johnson K.P., Clayton D.H. 2003. The chewing lice: World checklist and biological overview. Illinois Natural History Survey Special Publication 24: 1-448.

[12] Hinojosa-Saez A., Gonzalez-Acuna D., George-Nascimento M. 2009. Host specificity, prevalence and between-sites variation in metazoan parasites of Anas georgica Gmelin,1789 (Aves: Anseriformes) in Chile. Revista Chilena de Historia Naural 82: 337-345.

[13] Aksin N. 2011. Chewing Lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera) on Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) in Turkey. Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances 10: 1656-1659.

[14] Złotorzycka J. 1959. Wszoły (Mallophaga) z ptaków jeziora Sumin, pow. Bytów na Pomorzu. Polskie Pismo Entomologiczne 29: 251-265.

[15] Złotorzycka J. 1961. Mallophaga from birds associated with the water environment in Poland. Acta Zoologica Cracoviensia 6: 273-343.

[16] Hellenthal R.A, Price R.D, Palma R.L 2004. Chewing Lice of Belgium. Available in:

pdf, 1-59 (accessed: 10.12.2012).

[17] Rékási J., Kiss J.B. 1980. Weitere Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Federlinge (Mallophaga) der Vögel Nord-Dobrudschas. Parasitologia Hungarica 13: 67-93.

[18] Mehl R., Bang C., Kjos-Hanssen B., Lie H. 1982. Mallophaga from Svalbard. Fauna Norvegica, seria B 29: 19-23.

[19] Tomiałojć L., Stawarczyk T. 2003. Awifauna Polski. Rozmieszczenie, liczebność i zmiany. PTPP „pro Natura” Wrocław.

[20] Fryderyk S., Kadulski S. 2004. Mallophaga z Anatidae, Alcidae i Phalacrocoracidae (Aves) zimujących na Zatoce Gdańskiej. In: Arthropods. Parasite–Host Relationships. (Eds. A. Buczek, C. Błaszak). Liber, Lublin: 67-70.

[21] Fryderyk S., Kadulski S. 2006. Esthiopteridae, Rallicolidae (Phthiraptera: Ischnocera) and Ancistronidae (Phthiraptera: Amblycera) of birds occurring in the autumn and winter season in the Southern Baltic. In: Arthropods. Epidemiological importance. (Eds. A. Buczek, C. Błaszak). Koliber, Lublin: 119-123.

[22] Deryło A. 1982.Wszołowice zwierząt. PWRiL, Warszawa: 1-148.

[23] Ansari M.A.R. 1951. Mallophaga (Amblycera) infesting birds in the Penjab (India). Proceedings of the National Institute of Science India 17:127-203

[24] Złotorzycka J. 1976. Klucze do oznaczania owadów Polski. Wszoły - Mallophaga. Nadrodzina: Menoponoidea. Część XV, zeszyt 2. PWN Warszawa: 1-189.

W październiku 2006 r. przebadano edredona (Somateria mollissima) i na jednej z lotek znaleziono 1 samicę Trinoton querquedulae. Na tym gatunku żywiciela wymieniony gatunek wszoła stwierdzono w Polsce po raz pierwszy i dotychczas jedynie w Belgii odnotowano T. querquedulae na tej kaczce. Skrajnie nieliczne informacje świadczą, że jest to rzadki gatunek wszoła u edredona.

Table 1.

Body size of females of T. querquedulae (mm) on various hosts according to different authors

Clay and Hopkins [6]

Ansari [23]

Złotorzycka [24]

Castresana et al. [10]

Aksin [13]



Length of head







Width of head







Length of thorax







Width of thorax







Length of abdomen







Width of abdomen







Total length of body







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