Little blue cattle louse

(Solenopotes capillatus)

This louse is preferentially found on the face and jaw of captive ungulates, namely cattle and gazelles. They are spread through direct contact.

Type

Sucking louse, fine mouthparts puncture the skin to feed on cattle blood.

Adults

This is the smallest of the lice found infesting cattle (1.2-1.7 mm long) and can often be confused with the long nosed sucking louse. However, it has a shorter “nose” than the long nosed sucking louse and on close examination the adults have small protuberances along the abdomen called tubercules through which they breathe (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Little blue cattle louse Solenopotes capillatus. Image credit the National Center for Veterinary Parasitology, ncvetp.org
Figure 1. Little blue cattle louse Solenopotes capillatus. Image credit the National Center for Veterinary Parasitology, ncvetp.org

Eggs

The female louse lays one to two 0.70 mm long eggs per day, each attached to a hair. Often the hair is bent, a feature not observed with other cattle lice.

Location on animal

Heaviest infestations are usually found on the head, neck, shoulder, back and dewlap. These lice cluster on the face, especially around the eyes and muzzle. Heavy infestations give white-faced cattle a bluish appearance.

Life cycle

The incubation period of the eggs of this species is 11-13 days and the complete life cycle from egg to adult takes 27-29 days.

Control

It is uncommon to find heavy infestations of this species in Australian herds

How and when to treat lice