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.

Morphology

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

Hosts

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.

Distribution

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

Diseases

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.

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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 !

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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 :

  • TWO NEW SPECIES OF MACROCHELES FROM FRANCE (MESOSTIGMATA: MACROCHELIDAE) by J. NIOGRET , A. NICOT & M. BERTRAND (Accepted October 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.

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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.

Anatomy

  • 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

Hosts

  • 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.

Distribution

  • 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…).

Diseases

  • 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…

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