Dec 262015

With a certain emotion, I present you today a prepared slide of N. C. Rothschild done in 1911. This prepared slide is extracted from MNHN collection, Paris.

If you are wondering who was Nathaniel Charles Rothschild please consult Wikipedia.

As it is an ancient prepared slide, obviously the quality is slightly different, but it remains a very good one. Canada Balsam is a real permanent mounting media, slides can survive centuries in such media.


The current flea is Synosternus pallidus male, parasite found on squirrels in Soudan. Synosternus pallidus was firstly described by Taschenberg in 1880 !

Types are deposited at BMNH. This species belongs to the Pulicidae family.


One of its characteristic is to have segment IV of tasus III, as long as large, as you can see it on the last picture here under.

Synonyms for the species

  • Pulex pallidus
  • Xenopsylla pallidus
  • Synosternus pallidus infestus


It seems that hosts specificity is not that clear for Synosternus pallidus. Unless found in desertic environment, it is not a Gerbillid flea according to Professor Beaucournu. Klein (1975) and Lewis (1982) consider that primary host would be Paraechinus (desert hedgehog). Synosternus pallidus can be found in hen houses, can bite occasionnaly human, dogs and cats.

Professor Beaucournu identified this species on Jackal (Canis aureus), hare (Lepus), fennec (Fenecus zerda) and fox (Vulpes vulpes). It seems to be frequent on Canidae, like Archaeopsylla erinacei in Europe.


It seems to have a very wide distribution from Northern Africa (Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunesia…) until Central Asia.


Last but not least, this species would be a very good vector of pest !

My thanks goes to Emmanuel Delfosse and Christophe Daugeron from MNHN, Paris.

Dec 212015

Here are microscopic photos taken from a microscopic mount of the MNHN, Paris. This mite is Listrophoroides (Marquesania) papuanus, identified by Alex Fain from Tropical & Medical Institute of Anvers. This fur mite parasites pale field rat, known as Rattus tunneyi.

The pale field rat, also known as Tunney’s rat, is a nocturnal herbivore endemic in Australia. It once occupied almost all areas of mainland Australia, but is now found only in tall grasslands in northern Australia.

This mite species belongs to the family of Atopomelidae. Mites of the family Atopomelidae (Astigmata) are permanent parasites of small mammals. The Atopomelidae include 46 genera and about 360 species. The genus Listrophoroides (Hirst) is the largest genus of the family, including 16 subgenera and more than 150 species (Fain 1981).


The inscriptions on the slide shows :

  • Name of species : Listrophoroides (Marquesania) papuanus
  • Name of host : Rattus tunneyi
  • Locality : Port Warrender, Kimberly Exp.
  • Date of collection : 30-X-1976
  • Reference of slide : 50G11
  • Collection : Institut Tropical Médical d’Anvers
  • Sex : female
  • Determinator : A. Fain

If you are intereted in such species, please refer to this publication :

We can read the following concerning Marquesania subgenus :

The species of this subgenus are permanent parasites living in the fur of rats (Rodentia:Murinae) in the Oriental region, Australia and New Guinea. The atopomelids are more commensals than true parasites, because they feed on the secretions of hair glands and, probably, do not damage their hosts. After the present revision, this subgenus includes 13 species.

If you have occasion to collect such mite, we would be happy to receive some samples. We can also bring you some expertise in determination of such parasite.

Our thanks go to MNHN Paris for granting a free access to the collection. Congratulations to A. Fain and Bochkov for their great job on this genus and family !

Dec 042015

This mite was found hitchhiking on a Necrophorus beetle, in French Brittany in 2010.

Well, I am not fully satisfied with these photos but the specialists will anyway probably recognise the Macrocheles glaber group… from the family of Macrochelidae. The problem is that the prepared slide is very slim, it is good to have a global clear view of the mite, but both faces are overlapped, even with higher magnification. When you have no micrometric button, it is difficult to understand, on such photos, if the seta you see is on the dorsum or the ventrum.

Anyway I checked for you the differenciation between the mites of the glaber group (I speak about females here under) :

  • Macrocheles nataliae : setae J5, Z5 and S5 are with distal pilosity, J5 rather fully pilose or serrated
  • Macrocheles glaber : setae J5 are with distal pilosity (or serrated) but Z5 and S5 are smooth
  • Macrocheles perglaber has significant differences in ventral shields but only differential drawings could highlight the differences


When the story becomes complicated, it is with a new description coming from France in 2006 :


It describes a new species called Macrocheles paucipectinatus, but the description is in nearly all points similar to a glaber like Macrocheles and it is stated that :

By several characters, Macrocheles paucipectinatus n. sp. is closed to the glaber group: the well defined procurved line, the pattern on sternal shield, the simple and pilose dorsal setae (S5, Z5 pilose and serrated J5). However simple z4 and r4 get M. paucipectinatus n. sp. different from the standard definition (Walter & Krantz 1992).

This slight difference is not convincing for me, as one can easily observe slight differences in pectinations of setae from one individual to the other pertaining presumably to the same species. But this is only my point of view. I am also slightly dissapointed by the quality of the drawings of the here under referred paper, no description unfortunetly of the chelicera.

One difference I can observe from Macrocheles paucipectinatus with my subject is :

Arched line is short, central part of sternal shield with reticular pattern. Angular line divided in 2 branches posteriorly. Oblique posterior lines glaber-like.

Anyway, to my humble opinion, our subject here is definitly a female of Macrocheles nataliae. One of my references is Fauna Europea, and I do not see any M. paucipectinatus in their list for Macrochelidae. By the way I should jump into TGV to go to Paris check the deposit of types for M. paucipectinatus…

If you read me and are concerned about Macrocheles glaber group (oh my God!), let me know your opinion.

Thanks for your patience reading me.

Dec 012015

Hello world, here is a male of Spilopsyllus cuniculi, which is simply the flea of the rabbit ! This flea is belonging to the family of Pulicidae. As other Siphonaptera, it is an ectoparasite generally found in the animal fur. One can find many information on the net on this species, but few photos for precise identification.

Spilopsyllus cuniculi (Dale, 1878) is belonging to the sub-family of Spilopsyllinae : Pulicidae with symetrical antennae.


  • This species has a caracteristic frontal tubercle on the frons.
  • The genal comb has 4-6 blunt spines.
  • The pronotal comb has 12-17 spines.

The types of the species are probably lost.


Synonyms for the species

  • Pulex cuniculi
  • Pulex goniocephalus
  • Ceratophyllus leporis


  • Main hosts : Oryctolagus cuniculus (rabbit)
  • Secondary host : Lepus europaeus (hare)
  • Occasionnal host : Vulpes vulpes, Felix catus, Canis familiaris, Lepus hibernicus, Apodemus sylvaticus, Clethrionomys glareolus, Arvicola terrestris, Lutra lutra, Martes foina, Martes martes, Mustela nivalis, Mustela putorius, Meles meles, Ratus norvegicus, Sus scrofa, Homo sapiens…

As mentionned, Spilopsyllus cuniculi has been found occasionnally on a very wide variety of hosts. It is also observed on certain seabirds that nest in burrows.


  • As it is the primary host of the rabbit, its distribution follows distribution of it (Oryctolagus cuniculus). For this reason this flea is found worldwide.
  • Oryctolagus cuniculus may have been introduced in its domestic form and thus non parasitised in some parts of the world (Islands…).


  • Rabbit flea is a vector of myxomatosis and Trypanosoma nabiasi.
  • Spilopsyllus cuniculi is also parasitised with several species of Tylenchida (an order of Nematodes). Tylenchida are then parasites of parasite…

Have you ever heard about this nursery rhyme which illustrates pretty well the parasite of parasite ?

Big fleas have little fleas, Upon their backs to bite ’em,

And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so, ad infinitum…

Nov 252015

I am proud to present you today a case of phoresy on Dorcus parallelipipedus (stag beetle also found as parallelopipedus), family of Lucanidae… Obviously the mite presented here below is a deutonymph and not an adult stage ! It was found on the French territory.

Metagynella carpathica was firstly described by Balogh in 1943. The genera was firstly described by Belese in 1919. To finish with the classification, the family of Metagynuridae was erected by Baker & Wharton in 1952.

The only information I can find on the web concerning this species is the list of 14 species which should be currently identified for this genera… Nothing really more.

This species is probably a paneuropean species, this is my best guess… A nice hypothesis would be to say it follows its host, but I have no specific information to be sure of that. Dorcus Parallelipipedus is actually present in most of the French departments.

One caracteristic of this deutonymph is the “sort of” additionnal genital shield inserted between the anal and the sternal shield as you can see on the last photo. I noticed this intermediate shield only on this Uropodina species for the moment, but maybe some others Uropodina mites, in deutonymph stage, have such one ? This is to be checked…

According to Peter Masan, Dorcus Parallelipipedus is the primary host for the phoresy of Metagynella carpathica. The deutonymph can also use the famous Lucanus servus, as Boeing 747… Indeed, one may raise the question why a so tiny mite needs to use such a big mean of transportation… Obviously this is not a question of weight or size but rather a question of micro biotope this Boeing brings to… You have the answer to that question ? Larvae of Dorcus live in soft decaying wood of broad-leaved trees, is-it then probable to find some Metagynella in this biotope as well ?

One tip to seperate Metagynella carpathica from Metagynella paradoxa Berlese, 1919 : ventral shield setae (around anal opening) are three times longer than the sternal shield setae on Metagynella carpathica, approximatly same size for Metagynella paradoxa, detail which is not obvious on my last photo unfortunately (because of a problem of depth of field). There are obviously some more differences… I hope I will be in position to show you one day a deutonymph of Metagynella paradoxa !

Nov 132015

Hello friendship of mites !

To continue the series of feather mites, here is the nearly famous feather mite of the common pigeon, for those who care about pigeons or doves at least… Its sweety little name is Falculifer rostratus (Buchholz, 1869) , from the family of Falculiferidae.


It feeds on keratin and prefers the flight feathers of wings (better taste or more minerals ?). It makes holes in the plumage and thus can hamper the flight. A favoured place for various species of such feather mites is the junction of barbs with the feather shaft.

According to, this species can be found on the following bird species :

Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes)
Stock Dove (Columba oenas)
African Collared Dove (Streptopelia roseogrisea)
Housepigeon (Columba livia)
Trocaz Pigeon (Columba trocaz)
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)

On this same site you will find interesting information about the lifecycle of a feather mite.

Wandering around on the internet, I found the following specialised publications on this species :

  • Fine Structure of the Feather Mite Falculifer rostratus (Buchholz 1869) (Acari, Falculiferidae). 150 pages & 88 figures on this species, it is much probably a very interesting publication but unfortunatly far too expensive for me.
  • Population density and male polymorphism in the feather mite Falculifer rostratus (Acari: Falculiferidae), H. C. Proctor , G. Williams, D. H. Clayton

I went through this second publication and discovered an interesting phenomenon in the world of mites : the male polymorphism ! It occurs in Mesostigmata (Macrochelidae for example), in Prostigmata but also in Astigmata. The purpose of the study was to determine if the population density has an impact on the ratio of homeomorphic and heteromorphic males, as this can be observed for Sancassania berlesei. Well, the conclusion is not that straightforward because the notion of population density should be observed maybe preferably at the feather level, and not at the whole pigeon level…

In the case of Falculifer rostratus, the heteromorphic male should have leg I, II and the movable digit of chelicera greatly elongated. Is it the case for the shown mite ? I will tell you something… I do not know, I am even not 100% sure I am showing you a male (O my Goodness !), but maybe You know ?

Anyway if you are looking for information to get rid of these parasites for your belowed pigeons, I recommand you to check other sites… this one is dedicated to taxonomy, scientific studies and iconography of parasites (oriented on determination).

Thanks for your interest !

Nov 082015

This new mite is obiously a Mesostigmata belonging to the Uropodina Cohort.

I feel a bit uncomfortable with this Polyaspinus, considering that some authors class it in the Polyaspididae family, and others in Trachytidae family. Who owns the truth ? Where is the truth ? M. Kontschan, if you could help us your are welcome !

I read in my favorite book, A Manual of Acarology, that Polyaspinus are denizens of tree holes, forest litter and mostly restricted to the Northern hemisphere. There would be only 7 species for this genus according to the same author. Polyaspinus are phoretic species in deutonymph stage.


My species, well, is not fully identified, assuming that I have no key for Europe for this genus… If you happen to have some key for this genus, let us know, and share it ! You can also tell me what is the real species of the specimen I am showing you now. Maybe it is nor Polyaspinus cylindricus (firstly described by Berlese, 1916) neither Polyaspinus nicolae (furtherly described by Hirschmann, 1992).. who knows ? Personnaly I have some doubts when I look at my specimen, and the difficulties is to distinguish when morphological differences are only intra-specific or not !

The vertex ends with a funny shape as visible on the detail of prodorsum, my specimen has two small bulb at the very end of the vertex bearing the setae. But these two setae are not visible on my photo.

Please pay attention to the cerotegument, visible on the cuticle of the body and the legs. This sticking wax agglomerates tiny soil particles and fungus spores. By the way I am personnaly convinced that mites participate in the dispersion of spores !

This Polyaspinus is also a very good example to show what is a called platelet or scutella, a very tiny shields (here in raws in lateral position). If you look carefully you will see two pores and one seta per scutella.

Why I am not convinced for Polyaspinus cylindricus or Polyaspinus nicolae ? Well… for the following reasons :

  • I do not understand exactly the differenciation made by Hirschmann. If we follow the criteria of a central pygidial shield shorter than the lateral ones then it is Polyaspinus nicolae,
  • But in my specimen the scutella, in the two lateral rows and both sides, have the same size but different shapes, this is not the case for the specimen described in my documentation (Annotationes zoologicae et Botanicae N223, Slovenske Narodne Muzeum v Bratislave, Peter Masan, 2001),
  • There are some bulbs at several places on the dorsum of my specimen, I cannot see on drawings of both species (same documentation),
  • The genital shield is also significantly different…

So I submit my case to the world of acarologists, as a bottle in the ocean…

Nov 012015

Here is another feather mite which was firstly named by Edouard Louis Trouessart in 1885. This is the first image of this species on Google image at the time being.

Trouessartia bifurcata (Trouessart, 1885) is a member of the Trouessartiidae family created by the same person (you would have never guessed…). This is today still considered as a valid species by Fauna Europea.


Here are microscopic photos taken from a microscopic mount of the MNHN, Paris. One long seta of the “tail” is unfortunatly broken, but this problem frequently occurs during the mount.

The inscriptions on the slide shows :

  • Name of species : Trouessartia bifurcata
  • Name of host : Acrocephalus paludicola (aquatic warbler)
  • Locality : France
  • Date of collection : unknown
  • Reference of slide : 42E4
  • Collection : Trouessart
  • Sex : male
  • Other reference : trt-38

Unfortunatly nothing about the mounting medium…

Trouessartia is a large genera which is parasiting primarily passeriforms. Acrocephalus paludicola is a Passeriform of the family of Acrocephalidae (aquatic warbler in English, phragmite aquatique in French). A taxonomic work has been done for the family of Trouessartiidae by Orwig (1968) and Santana (1976), I would very much appreciate to get this synthesis, if you have it !

For this species you would say directly bifurcata means the tail is bifurcated in this species, unfortunatly I fear that this caracteristic is shared with a number of other Trouessartia species…

Trouessartia bifurcata is not yet illustrated in this remarquable site on feather mite : Nevertheless, this site indicates other bird species which can host Trouessartia bifurcata :

  • Barred Warbler (Sylvia nisoria)
  • Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin)
  • Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)
  • Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca)

If you have examples of Trouessartiidae to share with us, do not hesitate to send them !

Our thanks go to MNHN Paris for granting a free access to the collection.

Oct 212015

Hello again with another mount from the collection of MNHN in Paris. The shown slide has the following references :

  • Name of species : Axonopsis romijni (no longer valid at present)
  • Locality : lake “du grand Laoucien” in France
  • Date of collection : 1927
  • Reference of slide : 19C4
  • Collection : C.M. (Understand C. Motas)
  • Sex : male

It is a real pitty that the medium used for the mount is nearly never indicated. In this case it is pretty well preserved for a mount done in 1927.

According to A Checklist of the water mites of France(Acari: Hydrachnidia) of Harry SMIT and Reinhard GERECKE, this species is present in France in Ardèche, in Pyrénées-Orientales and in Var. It is a member of Aturidae family ad Aturinae subfamily.

I wonder what is the origin of Axonopsis name ? This could be due to the fact that Axonopsis has a dark spot (like an eye “ops”) in the axis (“axo”) of the animal ? Your opinion is welcome.


The exact naming of the species was recently Axonopsis (Hexaxonopsis) romijni Viets, 1923 (same reference as here under published in 2010), but according to this recent publication (2015) :

Revision of the status of some genus-level water mite taxa in the families Pionidae Thor, 1900, Aturidae Thor, 1900, and Nudomideopsidae Smith, 1990 (Acari: Hydrachnidiae) – IAN M. SMITH, DAVID R. COOK & REINHARD GERECKE

We are proposing here that a number of taxa in the families Pionidae, Aturidae (subfamilies Axonopsinae and Aturinae), and Nudomideopsidae that have been treated as subgenera in the recent literature should be elevated to full generic rank to reflect the diversity, morphological distinctness, relationships, and apparent ages of the species groups they comprise.

… the name of the species has been moved to Paraxonopsis romijni. Paraxonopsis is elevated in
rank from subgenera to full genera, and the former sub-genera seems to have changed by the way…

More information on the site of collection here. C. Motas studied the fauna of this lake and published the following book : Contribution à la connaissance des hydracariens français particulièrement du Sud-Est de la France, C. Motas, Travaux du Laboratoire d’Hydrobiologie et de Pisciculture de l’Université de Grenoble, 1928″.

In the title of this article, I mention probable parasite of chironomids, because it seems to be an accepted hypothesis unless there is no real proof of evidence of that. Parasitism on chironomids is probable, as many related genera include chironomid-parasitic species. In all known cases, it is the larva that parasitizes the insect host. This subject is still to be studied !

Here is a link of one of my colleagues with a live image of an Aturidae.

For this post, my thanks goes to Professor Gerecke and MNHN, Paris.

Oct 152015

Hello world, here is a female of Doratopsylla dasycnema cuspis, which can be considered as the flea of the common shrew (Sorex araneus) ! This flea is belonging to the family of Ctenophtalmidae.

Doratopsylla dasycnema cuspis Rothschild, 1915 is considered as a valid subspecies (cf Fauna Europea). The types are located at the British Museum of National History, obviously as firstly described by Rothschild. It is a flea encountered in South East of Europe (Italy, part of France,…).


  • Sternum VII is shown here below with nor sinus (like for Doratopsylla dasycnema dasycnema), neither incision (like for Doratopsylla dasycnema giloti) at its posterior margin.
  • The genal comb has 4 spines directed backwards, the last one being slightly curved upwards.
  • The pronotal comb has 16 spines.
  • Even if on my photo here below the spermatheca is a little bit smashed, I can clearly see punctuations on it, and not striations as represented for Doratopsylla dasycnema dasycnema in “Les puces de France et du bassin méditerranéen occidental“.



  • Dasy means thick and cnema means leg. Much probably this name of species was given considering the fact that it has thicker legs than other ones ?
  • Cuspis means tip. The name of this subspecies is possibly linked with the form of the posterior margin of Sternum VII ?

Here below a list of synonyms and hosts according to litterature on the subject.

Synonyms for the species

  • Doratopsylla cuspis
  • Doratopsylla bifida


  • Main hosts : Sorex araneus, Sorex alpinus, Crocidura russula, Crocidura leucodon, Crocidura suaveolens, Neomys fodiens
  • Secondary host : Talpa europea, Talpa caeca, Talpa romana, Talpa stankovici
  • Occasionnal host : Mus domesticus, Erinaceus europaeus, Apodemus sylvaticus, Clethrionomys glareolus, Microtus nivalis

Other subspecies

  • Doratopsylla dasycnema dasycnema is known from Europe, sternum VII has a sinus at the posterior margin.
  • Doratopsylla dasycnema giloti is known from Spain, sternum VII has an incision at the posterior margin.