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…

Jun 152015

Have you ever seen such a perfect microphotography of a tick ? This is the astonishing work of Paul Leroy again. Here is a female of Ixodes ricinus, commonly called the castor bean tick, this name sounds funny for the French speaking guy I am…

This tick has a very large distribution in Eurasia and is probably the most common tick found on people.

A female fasting tick has usually a size of 4 mm. The scutum is globally rouded, and slightly longer than large, as you can see on the photo. The posterior margin of the body is largely rounded, which gives this typical shape of castor bean (castor seed is a better appropriated term).

Each pair of coxa has an external short spur. The coxae I have a long internal spur. Coxae I are syncoxae, but the striated half posterior part is slightly visible.

Ixodes ricinus is an ubiquitous triphasic tick. It feeds on a wide variety of vertebrate hosts and is a vector of numerous pathogens (Flavivirus, Borrelia, Babesia, Rickettsia, Anaplasma, Louping ill,…).

Enjoy this outstanding photography, it looks like a very good color drawing !



Jun 082015

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 differently as other ones you can find on the internet, because this is a microscopic mount, and the animal has been cleared to reach semi transparency.

According to the site quoted here below, this type of tick shows no preference for environment and can live in humid / cold, or warm / desertic environment. This is probably due to some specific adaptations…

According to an Ukrainian study (see here below), it can be found on very different types of hosts (wide range of mammals, birds, but also occasionnaly on reptile). Common hosts in human environment : cattle, sheep, goat, horse, deer, rabbit, humans…

As other ticks, it can transmit several types of diseases :

  • Rickettsia siberica,
  • Tickborne encephalitis virus
  • Babesia bobis, B. bigeminum…
  • Theileria mutans, T. recondita…
  • Coxiella burneti
  • Brucella melitensis
  • Bhanja virus
  • Francisella tularensis

With such diseases transmitted, it raises the question of good and evil. Is such a tick good or evil ? How can we accept the fact that such a being could have a benefic role in the animal reign diversity ? If you have your aswer to this question, let me know !

Litterature :

  • The ecology, bionomics, and behaviour of Haemaphysalis (Aboimisalis) punctata tick in central Europe, Josef Nosek (No open access)
    • In this document, you can have an overview of the big diversity of hosts for this type of tick.

Links :

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 […]