An analysis of various ectoparasites.



Ectoparasites are parasites which live on the outer suface or between the first skin layers of the host. They are part of the phylum Arthropoda and like any parasite; they require a host for their survival. Bed Bug, Fleas, Lice, Mites, Mosquitoes and Ticks are some of the ectoparasites that will be observed in the lab experiment.

Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius)

There are flat, oval, brown insects that usually inhabit houses and neglected beds. They feed on the blood of man usually during the night time, and causes itching where bites are.

Human fleas (Pulex irritans)

They are very small, wingless, blood sucking insects who also act as vectors for the spread of diseases such as the plague, tularemia, and brucellosis.


They are arthropods that belong to the order Acarina. They differ from ticks because usually they are either transparent or sometimes semitransparent. They burrow into the skin; this causes intense itches which results in inflamed areas of the skin surface. Mites can only live under four days if they are removed from the host body.


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They look greyish, definitely wingless, and appear to be flattened parasitic insects; they belong to the suborder Anoplura. They are found in the crowded areas that exhibit poor sanitation and hygiene. These types of infestations are called pediculosis. They live on the blood of the host and it is obtained by piercing the skin and sucking with the mouthparts.


They are blood sucking arachnid that can be seen by the eye. They act as vectors for certain bacteria which are known to cause diseases among humans. There are two types of ticks: hard ticks and soft ticks. Soft ticks don't borrow into the skin but the hard ticks do.

In this section, you will be required to attach all the drawings completed during the laboratory session. All drawings must be accompanied by the following:

Taxonomy of the parasite (Phylum/subphylum, class/sub class, order, family, genus and species)

An appropriate label for the drawing with the magnification next to it.

Proper labels (that can be read) along with brief annotations.

Complete the following table:


Feeding/attachment of hose

Life cycles that are parasitic/ act as vectors


Associated diseases

Bed bug

It pierces the skin of the host with its anticoagulant which is used to withdraw blood. The process is painlessly.

Nymph and Adult stages are parasitic but the Adult stage acts as a vector.

Have sensory organs which sense heat, Carbon Dioxide and kairomones.

Chagas Disease

Mosquito (Culex or Anopheles)

Fascicle pierces the blood vessel s to feed on blood.

Adult stage act as vector

The Eggs remain afloat by virute of lateral air chambers.


Pulex irritans

Modified mouthparts for feeding on the skin.

Adult stage act as vector

The Body is laterally compressed to allow better residency on the host. Has a pronotal ctenidium that allows the flea to move through hair as well as protect underlying body parts.


Pediculus humanus capitis

Modified mouthpart for blood feeding, piercing and sucking.

Nymph and Adult are parasitic

There are no dormant stages, so have the ability lice to survive harsh environmental conditions

Pediculosis and Dermatitis.

Phthirus pubis

Modified moutpart for blood feeding by piercing and sucking.

Nymph and Adults are parasitic

Board body with grabbing claws to allow for a more efficient hold on the host hairs.

Pediculosis pubis

Calliphora vomitoria

Larvae and adult feed on decaying tissues.

Larva are parasitic and adults act as vectors

Modified Sensory organs to find decaying tissue to feed on. The larva has a hook structure on the anterior end for attachment.


Rhipicelphalus sanguineus.

Uses the capituli to attach to host and feeds on blood with a piercing mouthpart.

Larvae, nymphs and Adults are parasitic

Adapted for all ecological niches once blood meal are available.

Boutenneuse Fever, East Coast Fever and Borrelia theileri.

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Culicoides amazonius

Modified mouth for piercing skin and feeding on blood.

Adults act as vectors

Spontaneous breeding patterns

Blue-tongue disease

Why do arthropods make successful ectoparasites? Write three (3) paragraphs to explain this.

Arthropod is the most successful phylum in the entire taxonomic list. They are successful because of their efficiency in motion, the habitat niches they infiltrate and respiratory methods.

They achieved this efficient locomotion from the characteristics of their tough Exoskeleton which made of Chitin. Chitin is a tough polysaccharide which is very lightweight, so not much energy is needed for movement. Segmentation of the legs also allows for better locomotion, so because of these features locomotion increases in efficiency.

Their hard exoskeleton body acts as armour which severs as protection, their existence in all ecological niches is as a result of this. This exoskeleton feature increases their resilience (the chitin exoskeleton) to the environmentally harsh conditions.

Arthropods have a tracheal system which is an open repertory system. This means that oxygen diffusion is faster (Starr and Taggart 2006). Oxygen is transported across the thin walls to the tissues, the tissue is constantly saturated with oxygen, and this process keeps them sufficiently ventilated (Randall et al. 1997).

List three (3) examples of parasitic crustaceans and for each state the organism/organisms that they parasitize.

The whale louse is a type of parasitic crustacean from the family Cyamidae. The common name "skeleton shrimp" is a parasite that feeds of the wounds and skin of Whales. This causes mild damage (C. De Broyer, 2009).

Porocephalus crotali, also a parasitic crustacean, common name "Tongue worm" is found in mammals and snakes. ( M. D. Brookins, J. F. X. Wellehan, J. F. Roberts, K. Allison, S. S. Curran, A. L. Childress & E. C. Greiner, 2009).

Branchiura, commonly known as "carp lice or fish lice", is found on a majority of fishes. (Joel W. Martin & George E. Davis, 2001).

Outline the differences between ticks and mosquitoes as ectoparasites (morphology, habitat, life cycle).





Hard ticks have an outer shell made of chitin and Soft ticks have a membranous outer surface.

Their mouth area has hypostome which is used for attaching itself onto the host while feeding.

Has a long proboscis. There are scales on the body, wing veins and wing borders. The also have a pair of long antennae, also have compound eyes.

Life cycle.

Larvae- wait on the ground for potential host, when it finds a host it then attaches and starts feeding.

Nymphs- feed on host after molting from the larvae.

Adult - continues feeding , seeks a mate, females drop off eggs and then die

Larvae- Live in water for about 7-14 days. They feed on algae and small benthic organisms.

Pupal- this life stage is in water also and takes around 1-4 days, it has no feeding activity.

Adult- Survives by having blood meals and then will lay eggs in aquatic areas.


All stages take place on terrestrial habitats

Pupa and Laval stages take place in aquatic habitats.

The adult's stage is observed mainly in the terrestrial habitats.