"So, naturalists observe, a flea has smaller fleas that on him prey; and these have smaller still to bite ’em; and so proceed ad infinitum."
- Jonathan Swift

November 14, 2010

November 14 - Pseudolynchia canariensis

Pseudolynchia canariensis is a hippoboscid or louse fly that feeds on pigeons and doves and can transmit the blood parasite Haemoproteus columbae. This species is primarily found in Africa and Asia. If you click on this photo of a P. canariensis fly and look at it carefully, you can see tiny little pink dots near the back of its abdomen. These even smaller things are mites, though in this case they are not really parasitic, but rather phoretic, a phenomenon whereby one kind of organism uses another as a means of transportation. All aboard! This fly is now departing...


  1. I wish there was a reaction button that said FANTASTIC! Very cool Tommy. Susan I am a huge fan of this blog, thankyou so much for starting it. I am looking forward to seeing the 'coffee table book version' in the new year.

  2. These mites are the family Epidermoptidae, of the genus Myialges (probably M. anchora). You are partially correct, because these mites are phoretic on the fly and do not parasite them, but they are really parasites of the bird hosts where these flies will arrive to suck blood. Have in mind that these mites need make phoresis to complete their life cycle. Actually they only lay their eggs on the phoretics and need them to move through the host and be transmited. If you look very carefully you will see on the abdomen like a "grape cluster", all of them are eggs with a female in the center. Look on the posterior left leg (on top) and you will see a single female without eggs (I believe that they can't lay eggs on legs or wings, even though they attach on these regions too, erratically?). Your picture show these mites on the mouth parts of the fly too, and with eggs.
    Nice shot! It is awesome. Congractulations.

  3. Cool, that's awesome. Thank you for the additional info - it's always great when one of our readers has additional information to contribute on the parasites we feature - we can only fit so much into a single post!

  4. Hi Tommy,

    So these also bite humans? If, yes is there any side effects?

  5. I haven't heard of these guys biting humans - as far as I am aware, it is a bird parasite so you should be safe from them.

  6. i just had a house martin fly in the window and kill its self against anouther trying to get out, the thing is covered in parasite fly,s , im in france but the things just got back from africa a month ago.. any ideas?