Lice, Bed Bugs, and Fleas of Columbia County, Oregon

Lice (clade Phthiraptera), also known as “chewing lice” or “sucking lice”, are small crawling parasites that chew or suck on a host in order to feed. They are True Bugs and most closely related to barklice and booklice.

There are hundreds of species of lice which specialize on many different wild animals, for the purpose of this guide I am only including a few species that people are most likely to encounter.

Human Head Louse Pediculus humanus capitis columbia county northwest oregon
Human Head Louse (Pediculus humanus capitis) – to 0.12″. Grey, turning reddish after sucking blood. Feed exclusively on human blood and will not attach to any other animal. Found on the head and will die within 24 hours without body heat. (photo © mike_h)
Body Louse Pediculus humanus corporis columbia county northwest oregon
Human Body Louse (Pediculus humanus corporis) – to 0.14″. Closely related to Head Louse and looks identical. Lives in clothes, only moving to body to feed. Rare outside of situations where clothing is difficult to clean (decrepit prisons, refugee camps, or homeless populations). (photo © Janice Carr, CDC)
Pubic Louse Pthirus pubis Crabs columbia county northwest oregon
Pubic Louse (Pthirus pubis) – to 0.08″. Shorter and rounder than head/body lice and with much thicker legs. Also known as “Crab Louse”, it is typically found in pubic hair though also can appear in course body hair, armpits, or eyebrows. (photo © Nuno Veríssimo P.)
Dog Chewing Louse Trichodectes canis columbia county northwest oregon
Dog Chewing Louse (Trichodectes canis) – to 0.07″. A small flat louse. As a “chewing louse”, it scrapes skin and fluids off the skin rather than sucking blood. Found on domestic dogs as well as wild canids such as coyotes. (photo © Daniel Drew)
Dog Sucking Louse Linognathus setosus columbia county northwest oregon
Dog Sucking Louse (Linognathus setosus) – to 0.1″. As a “sucking louse”, it inserts its more slender mouthparts into the animal in order to suck its blood. Found on domestic dogs -especially long-haired breeds- as well as wild canids such as coyotes. (photo © Rob Foster)
Pig Louse Haematopinus suis columbia county northwest oregon
Pig Louse (Haematopinus suis) – to 0.24″. A large louse with slender head and a pointed end. Brown but becomes black when filled with blood. It is the only louse species found on swine. (photo © Marie Lou Legrand)
Chicken Body Louse Menacanthus stramineus columbia county northwest oregon
Chicken Body Louse (Menacanthus stramineus) – to 0.14″. A chewing louse that concentrates around the vent, thighs, and breast of domestic birds including chickens, turkeys, peacocks, and ducks. The most common and most destructive of the chicken lice. (photo © Kendra Abbott / Abbott Nature Photography)
Poultry Shaft Louse Menopon gallinae columbia county northwest oregon
Poultry Shaft Louse (Menopon gallinae) – to 0.08″. A slightly smaller species of chewing louse. Live on the shafts of body feathers but also descends to the skin, feeding on feathers, dander, scales, and surface blood. (photo © Juan Cruzado Cortés)
Poultry Wing Louse Lipeurus caponis columbia county northwest oregon
Poultry Wing Louse (Lipeurus caponis) – to 0.09″. Darker with longer legs and much more slender body than other poultry lice. Found on the undersides of large wing and tail feathers, where it feeds on the feathers themselves as well as dander. (photo © catchang)

Bed Bugs (family Cimicidae) are also parasites and true bugs, but are most closely related to assassin bugs. Unlike lice they tend to crawl away from their host after they’re finished biting in order to digest their meal.

Common Bed Bug Cimex lectularius columbia county northwest oregon
Common Bed Bug (Cimex lectularius) – 0.2″. Small round reddish-brown bugs. Live in cracks in or near the bed, coming out at night to bite their human prey. Take 5-10 minutes to get a full meal, then retreat back to their hiding spot. (photo © Katja Schulz)
Western Bat Bug Cimex pilosellus columbia county northwest oregon
Western Bat Bug (Cimex pilosellus) – 0.2″. Have longer hairs than the Common Bed Bug and 3rd antenna segment is just as long as 2nd. Primarily feed on bats but will sometimes move to humans sleeping in the same building. (photo © Juan Cruzado Cortés)
Swallow Nest Bug Oeciacus vicarius columbia county northwest oregon
Swallow Nest Bug (Oeciacus vicarius) – 0.2″. Found in the nests of cliff swallows and sometimes barn swallows. Where swallows build their nest on homes, on rare occasions these bugs have been known to move from the nests and bite humans. (photo © Sean McCann)

Fleas (order Siphonaptera) are tiny flightless jumping insects most closely related to scorpionflies. They feed by piercing and sucking blood, with different species focusing on different kinds of host.

Fleas are very small and don’t have obvious coloration, so they can only be identified under magnification. For that reason, most of the photos here are from prepared slides.

Cat Flea Ctenocephalides felis columbia county northwest oregon
Cat Flea (Ctenocephalides felis) – to 0.1″. Has genal and pronotal “combs” (the comb-like bristles on the mouth and neck) and has 6 notches with protruding bristles on hind tibiae. The most common flea feeding on dogs and cats in the USA. Will bite humans as well. (photo © vuk)
Dog Flea Ctenocephalides canis columbia county northwest oregon
Dog Flea (Ctenocephalides canis) – to 0.08″. Has genal and pronotal combs, front of head is more rounded than Cat Flea, has 8 notches with protruding bristles on hind tibiae. Feeds on mammals and is more common in Europe than in the USA. (photo © Katja ZSM)
Human Flea Pulex irritans columbia county northwest oregon
Human Flea (Pulex irritans) – to 0.16″. Larger than dog/cat fleas and has no genal or pronotal combs. Also known as “House Flea” and can be found on numerous mammals and birds as well as humans. Originally from South America; guinea pigs may be its natural host. (photo © Katja ZSM)
Oriental Rat Flea Xenopsylla cheopis columbia county northwest oregon
Oriental Rat Flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) – to 0.15″. Has no genal or pronotal combs (the comb-like structures on the mouth and neck). Feeds on rodents, especially rats, and sometimes humans. Is famous as the main carrier of bubonic plague as well as typhus. (photo © Daniel Drew)
Rodent Flea Hoplopsyllus anomalus columbia county northwest oregon
Rodent Flea (Hoplopsyllus anomalus) – Has no genal (mouth) comb but does have a pronotal (neck) comb. Feeds on wild rodents including mice, voles, and squirrels as well as rabbits. Is a known carrier of the plague bacterium. (photo © Gabor Racz)
Ground Squirrel Flea Oropsylla montana columbia county northwest oregon
Ground Squirrel Flea (Oropsylla montana) – to 0.1″. Has no genal comb but does have a pronotal comb. Has very long mouthparts compared to other fleas. Feeds primarily on ground squirrels. Is a known carrier of the plague bacterium. (photo © CDC)
Rabbit Flea Spilopsyllus cuniculi columbia county northwest oregon
Rabbit Flea (Spilopsyllus cuniculi) – The genal (mouth) comb points horizontally rather than vertically. Often attacks around the ears. Most common on rabbits but will also bite dogs and cats. (photo © British Fleas)
Giant Mountain Beaver Flea Hystrichopsylla schefferi columbia county northwest oregon
Giant Mountain Beaver Flea (Hystrichopsylla schefferi) – to 0.4″. The world’s largest flea, reaching nearly half an inch long. Has 46 spines in the pronotal comb as opposed to 36 in the closely related Hystrichopsylla gigas. Is only found on mountain beavers. (photo © Merrill Peterson via New York Times)
Western Chicken Flea Ceratophyllus niger female columbia county northwest oregon
Western Chicken Flea (Ceratophyllus niger) – to 0.1″. Has no genal comb but does have a pronotal comb. Feeds on chickens and other birds, living in the nest and only going onto the bird to feed for short durations.. (photo © Spencer Entomological Collection, Beaty Biodiversity Museum, UBC)
Sticktight Flea Echidnophaga gallinacea columbia county northwest oregon
Sticktight Flea (Echidnophaga gallinacea) – to 0.08″. Small and rotund, has no genal or pronotal comb. Serrated mouth allows it to anchor and remain embedded in a host, often in clusters. Mainly feeds on chickens but will also use mammals as hosts. (photo © Daniel Drew)
Sticktight Flea Echidnophaga gallinacea columbia county northwest oregon
Sticktight Flea (Echidnophaga gallinacea) – embedded in human leg. This flea tends to target skin away hair or feathers, which on chickens means that it can be found around the eyes, comb, or between the toes. (photo © Erik Blosser)

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