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 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 102015

I am back again with another mount from the collection of NMNH in Paris. The shown slide has the following references :

  • Name of species : Neochauliacia simplex Peterson, Atyeo and Moss, 1978
  • Name of host : Streptoprocne sonaris sonaris
  • Locality : unknown
  • Date of collection : 1937
  • Reference of slide : 38F11
  • Collection : Berrson
  • Sex : male

First of all, Streptoprocne sonaris sonaris (seen also as S. zonaris zonaris) is a pretty little bird known in Costa Rica for instance (family of Micropodidae). Very difficult to find relevant information about this bird on the net.

Neochauliacia simplex belongs to the very unknown family of Eustathiidae. Two other species of Eustathiidae can be found on the common swift (Apus apus) : Chauliacia securigera and Eustathia cultrifer (see this very good site on feather mites)

If you happen to collect such feather mites, we would be happy to receive some samples for identification and photography. Obviously your name will be quoted as the collector.

Enjoy the hidden beauty of this feather mite, thanks again to the NMNH in Paris !


Sep 252015
Ceratophyllus (Ceratophyllus) hirundinis - the flea of the house martin

I am sorry for the kind swallows and martins, but I find this flea particularly sympathetic, for unknown reasons… This Ceratophyllus (Ceratophyllus) hirundinis species proudly displays a genal and a pronotal comb (see glossary on fleas). It is obviously part of the Ceratophyllidae family. It is very common on the house martin (Delichon urbica), but […]

Jul 302015
Columbicola columbae - slender pigeon lice

Slender pigeon lice are primarily found in the feathers on wings of pigeons. It is the typical parasite for Columba livia, but many other types of lice can be found on it. Here are again remarquable photos from Paul Leroy of this very common parasite. This species is belonging to the family of Philopteridae. With […]

Jun 082015
Haemaphysalis punctata male

Hello world, Here is a ventral view of a male of Haemaphysalis punctata. This tick is widespread in Europe but can be found also in central Asia. The male has very long internal spurs on the coxas IV, as you can notice on the enclosed remarquable photo done by Paul Leroy. The tick shown appears […]

Apr 222015
Ixodes ricinus - larva

Let me start with this emblematic parasite (and mite by the way), because this is the most common tick in France, found on human I mean. I was struck by the strange beauty of these horrible parasites, when I first put one of them under the microscope. Here I focus on an observation of larva […]