Biting lice body pattern
As can be seen in the bird louse on the right the antennae are small. Usually there are only 3 - 5 segments, and the whole thing may be hidden in a groove in the head.
The legs are usually adapted to cling firmly to the host, and end in two claws.
Louse body shape can vary according to the location on the body the louse specialises in. Those inhabiting the main feathers are usually long, whereas those feeding near the neck tend to be rounder.
Size varies, but is usually less than 5 mm in length.
Biting lice feeding and ecology
Biting lice feed mainly on particles of feather, fur and skin. Some do feed on blood, but usually from existing wounds. There are some species that do bite through the skin of the host though.
Mallophaga (biting lice) life cycle
Females can lay 50 100 eggs which are cemented to the feathers or hair of the host. Nymphs and adults look alike. From egg to mature adult takes 3 - 4 weeks.