Icosta americana
LOUSE FLY FAMILY (Hippoboscidae)

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This Louse Fly is approximately .40 inch (11 mm) in length. It is brown overall with a flattened profile. The head is small with large bulging eyes. The pointed beak is used for sucking blood from its host. The thorax has a leathery appearance. The abdomen is short and hairy. The wings are long, extending far beyond the end of the abdomen.


These flies are not often seen because they live their lives in the feathers of birds or in some cases, the fur of mammals. They are probably common in Fontenelle Forest and Neale Woods. The one shown here was photographed in Mormon Hollow, Fontenelle Forest in early November.


This species of Louse Fly is parasitic on birds. The females rear one offspring at a time with the larva living inside the female and feeding from special glands. The mature larva is born alive and pupates immediately in the soil or on the host. It is believed that this fly is a carrier of West Nile Virus. There are 28 species and 12 genera in North America.


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