Cattle biting louse, Bovicola bovis (Linnaeus)
shortnosed cattle louse,
Haematopinus eurysternus (Nitzsch);
little blue cattle louse, Solenopotes capillatus
longnosed cattle louse, Linognathus vituli
Adult -- The cattle biting louse (1 to 1.5 mm) is yellowish-white with
a reddish head and 8 dark crossbands on its abdomen.
The shortnosed cattle louse (2.75 to 3.25 mm) has a short head
that is nearly as broad as long and rounded in front. The head
and thorax are yellowish-brown and the abdomen is blue. The
longnosed cattle louse (2.5 mm) has a long "nose" and narrow
body. The abdomen of the longnosed louse is bluish-black. The
little blue louse (1.5 mm) is the smallest biting louse of
cattle. The head is short and the sides of the abdomen have
tubercles that project from the sides of each abdominal
Egg -- The small egg is delicate, white and barrel-shaped.
The front end has a slight rim with a lid that is pushed off at
hatching; the back end is glued to the hair.
Nymph -- In general, the nymph is smaller than but similar
in appearance to the adult.
Distribution -- Cattle lice are found worldwide.
Hosts -- Cattle lice usually attack only cattle.
Damage -- Lice occur on cattle of all ages and breeds. They
are most abundant on the top of the head and on the neck,
shoulders, back, and rump. They crawl about freely, irritating
the skin with both their sharp claws and their short, chewing or
Life History -- Eggs are attached to hairs close to the
skin. They hatch in about 8 days and 3 nymphal instars develop
over the next 18 to 21 days. Adult females, ready to lay eggs
within a couple of days, outnumber males and live about 42 days.
They lay about 30 eggs at the rate of about one egg every 36
hours. The life cycle (from egg to egg) is usually completed in
3 to 4 weeks.
Cattle lice thrive at the normal surface temperature of the
host's body. A variation of only a few degrees in either
direction can be lethal. Infestations are usually light in
summer and heavy in late winter and early spring.
The best control is prevention of an infestation. New cattle
should be examined thoroughly for lice before being introduced to
a herd. Properly labeled pour-on insecticides give quick and
effective control. Well-fed cattle housed in clean, well-lighted, well-ventilat
ed stables are usually
lice free under
normal conditions. Cattle routinely tested for fly control
during the summer months usually do not develop economic louse