Spatial distribution and spread of sheep biting lice, Bovicola ovis, from point infestations

P. J. James, Roger D Moon

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17 Scopus citations


The spatial distribution of chewing lice (Bovicola ovis) on their hosts was examined in Polypay and Columbia ewes initially artificially infested on the midside or the neck. Densities of lice were determined at 69 body sites in eight body regions at approximately monthly intervals for 2 years. In the second year, half of the ewes were mated and lice were counted at 26 body sites on the resulting lambs. Polypay ewes had higher densities of lice than Columbias at most inspections but there was little effect of infestation point or mating on either numbers or the distribution of lice. During periods of high louse numbers densities were generally greatest on the sides or the back. Densities on the head were also high at times and peaked later than overall louse densities. Shearing markedly reduced density but increased the proportion of lice found on the neck, belly and lowleg sites. The distribution of lice on the lambs was similar to that on the ewes except that fewer lice were found on the head. Comparisons of lice per part with the numbers of lice extracted from clipped patches indicated that a sheep with wool bearing area of 1m2 and a mean count of one louse per 10cm fleece parting carried approximately 2000 lice. At most times of the year inspections for sheep lice should be concentrated on the sides and back, but in recently shorn sheep greater attention should be paid to the lower neck and ventral regions. Implications of the observed distributions of lice for the efficacy of chemical treatments are discussed. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-339
Number of pages17
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 15 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dan Brown at the North Central Agricultural Experiment Station, Grand Rapids, MN for managing the experimental animals throughout this study. Financial support was provided by an International Wool Secretariat Postgraduate Scholarship (P.J.) and a University of Minnesota Graduate School Dissertation Fellowship (P.J.). This is contribution 981170017 of the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station (Project Number 50).

Copyright 2007 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Arthropoda
  • Bovicola ovis
  • Mallophaga
  • Sheep
  • Spatial distribution


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