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Neotropical Entomology

Print version ISSN 1519-566XOn-line version ISSN 1678-8052

Neotrop. Entomol. vol.36 no.1 Londrina Jan./Feb. 2007 



The correct identity of a louse sample (Phthiraptera: Menoponidae) from the roadside hawk, Rupornis magnirostris (Gmelin) (Falconiformes: Accipitridae)


A identidade correta de uma amostra de piolho (Phthiraptera: Menoponidae) do gavião-carijó, Rupornis magnirostris (Gmelin) (Falconiformes: Accipitridae)



Michel P. ValimI; Ricardo L. PalmaII

IPrograma de Pós-Graduação, Depto. Parasitologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Univ. Federal de Minas Gerais, Av. Presidente Antônio Carlos 6627, Pampulha, 31270-901 Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil, bolsista do CNPq
IIMuseum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, P.O. Box 467, Wellington, New Zealand,




A report of a louse sample identified as Colpocephalum cholibae Price & Beer by Oliveira et al. (2004), from the roadside hawk [Rupornis magnirostris (Gmelin)] in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, is regarded as a misidentification. A correction to the identity of the lice is given as Kurodaia (Kurodaia) fulvofasciata (Piaget). Key morphological differences between the genera Colpocephalum and Kurodaia are discussed, as well as possible reasons for the misidentification.

Key words: Colpocephalum cholibae, Kurodaia fulvofasciata, misidentification


O relato de uma amostra do piolho identificada como Colpocephalum cholibae Price & Beer por Oliveira et al. (2004), de um gavião-carijó [Rupornis magnirostris (Gmelin)] no estado de São Paulo, é considerado uma identificação incorreta. Uma correção à identidade do piolho é dada como Kurodaia (Kurodaia) fulvofasciata (Piaget). As diferenças morfológicas entre os gêneros Colpocephalum e Kurodaia são discutidas, bem como as possíveis razões para o erro na identificação.

Palavras-chave: Colpocephalum cholibae, Kurodaia fulvofasciata, identificação incorreta



In the family Menoponidae (Amblycera), there are seven genera of lice with species parasitic on members of the bird order Falconiformes, while only two menoponid genera have been recorded from the bird order Strigiformes (Price et al. 2003). Species belonging to the genera Colpocephalum Nitzsch, 1818 and Kurodaia Uchida, 1926 are found on members of both bird orders. Colpocephalum comprises a large number of species distributed over a similarly large number of host taxa in 11 bird orders (Price et al. 2003). Price & Beer (1963a, c) revised the species of Colpocephalum from the Strigiformes and the Falconiformes. Kurodaia is restricted to the two bird orders mentioned above, and it has been divided into two subgenera: Kurodaia sensu stricto including the species from the Falconiformes and Conciella Eichler, 1949 containing the species from the Strigiformes (Price & Beer 1963b, d). Considering that Colpocephalum and Kurodaia are superficially similar, and that several species of the falconiform genera Buteo Lacepede and Rupornis Kaup are parasitised by species belonging to both louse genera, it is not surprising to find some confusion in distinguishing lice belonging to those genera (Price & Beer 1963b).

Recently, Oliveira et al. (2004) identified as Colpocephalum cholibae Price & Beer, 1963 a menoponid species collected from a specimen of Rupornis magnirostris (Gmelin), the roadside hawk, held captive in a zoological garden in the city of Sorocaba, state of São Paulo. The text description given by Oliveira et al. (2004) is adequate and well complemented by several clear line drawings of the whole male and of key characters from both sexes. After a critical analysis of that description and, especially, of the illustrations, we conclude that the lice they represent are actually Kurodaia (Kurodaia) fulvofasciata (Piaget, 1880).

We examined one male and one female of C. cholibae from Otus choliba (Vieillot) – the tropical screech owl – collected in the Zoological Gardens of the Foundation ZooNit, Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, VII/04/2002 (M.P. Valim Collection). Also, 17 males and 13 females of K. (K.) fulvofasciata from Accipiter fasciatus (Vigors & Horsfield) – the Australian goshawk – collected in New Caledonia, August 1983, P. Millener (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa). The description published by Oliveira et al. (2004) was compared with the material listed above, as well as with the descriptions of C. cholibae in Price & Beer (1963a) and of K. (K.) fulvofasciata in Price & Beer (1963b).

The features that characterize the genera Kurodaia and Colpocephalum have been well documented by Clay (1947) and Price & Beer (1963a, b, c, d). In order to facilitate future identification of lice belonging to these two genera, we think it would be useful to draw attention to the features that distinguish these genera from each other. Colpocephalum has heavily pigmented preocular and occipital nodi, usually interconnected by conspicuous occipital and temporal carinae, while Kurodaia has very poorly developed occipital nodi and lacks the carinae connecting the occipital nodi either to each other or to the corresponding preocular nodi. Colpocephalum has at most two widely spaced medium length setae anterior to the comb row along the lateroventral head margin, while Kurodaia has four to six setae in that position. Colpocephalum females lack ventral sclerites bearing setae between vulva and anus, while Kurodaia females have, on each side, a lateroventral sclerite between the vulva and anus bearing marginal and surface setae. The male genitalia in Colpocephalum have a distinctively shaped sclerotised plate associated with the genital sac, while Kurodaia lacks such a plate.

Among the features illustrated by Oliveira et al. (2004), the absence of a genital sclerite in the male genitalia clearly shows that their material cannot belong to Colpocephalum. On the other hand, those same genitalia figures largely agree with the genitalia depicted by Price & Beer (1963b) for K. (K.) fulvofasciata. To assist in the identification of C. cholibae males, we include here a figure of the male genitalia and of the male metasternal plate (Fig. 1).



The figure of the female ventral terminalia in Oliveira et al. (2004) clearly shows, on each side, a row of four setae between the vulva and the anus; although the lateroventral sclerite was not drawn, those setae are characteristic of the genus Kurodaia. In addition, the number of setae depicted by Oliveira et al. (2004) on the gular and the metasternal plates agree well with those present in K. (K.) fulvofasciata, and not with those of C. cholibae as shown by Price & Beer (1963a) for the female. Finally, a comparison of the male dimensions (Table 1) given by Oliveira et al. (2004) and the equivalent for K. (K.) fulvofasciata taken from Price & Beer (1963b), shows that the former fit well within the ranges of K. (K.) fulvofasciata, with the exception of the total length, which may be the result of different methods during the preparation and slide-mounting of the specimens, a common problem in lice (e.g. Palma et al. 1998). We also include measurements from the only male of C. cholibae available to us (Table 2).





The species K. (K.) fulvofasciata has been recorded from at least 19 falconiform species of 11 host genera in two families, Accipitridae and Falconidae, including R. magnirostris (Price et al. 2003, as Buteo magnirostris). On the other hand, C. cholibae is known from two species of Strigiformes only, i.e. the owls O. choliba crucigerus (Spix) and O. guatemalae (Sharpe) (Price et al. 2003). Besides being host to K. (K.) fulvofasciata, R. magnirostris is also host to a species of Colpocephalum, the cosmopolitan C. turbinatum Denny, 1842, known from over 50 species from three bird orders (Price et al. 2003).

A contamination or straggling of a strigiform louse species onto a falconiform host is a plausible scenario, especially when birds are kept in cages within the confines of zoological gardens or rehabilitation centres for raptors (see Price et al. 1997). Considering that the lice misidentified by Oliveira et al. (2004) were collected from a roadside hawk held in captivity in a zoological garden, where other bird species would have been present, finding a species they identified as an owl louse on a hawk should have alerted the authors to the fact that they were dealing with a very unusual new host record. Most new host-louse records are not in themselves unusual, but a species record where the new host is from an entirely different order to previously known hosts is especially noteworthy. However, Oliveira et al. (2004) merely regarded R. magnirostris as a new host for C. cholibae, only making a comment about the adaptive potential of the louse species.

Judging from the literature citations listed in the references section, Oliveira et al. (2004) appear to have had access to the two papers by Price & Beer (1963a, c) where they revised the genus Colpocephalum from the Strigiformes and the Falconiformes, but not to the revisions of the genus Kurodaia from the same hosts by the same authors (Price & Beer 1963b, d). We believe that having access to the Colpocephalum papers only, may have led Oliveira et al. (2004) to place the lice in the wrong genus and, consequently, to misidentify the species as well. Furthermore, the fact that the male of C. cholibae was unknown, may have also contributed to their misidentification.

Oliveira et al. (2004) qualified their record of C. cholibae as the first for South America. Considering that their sample was misidentified, this paper constitutes the first record of C. cholibae from South America, as well as the first record of the male of this louse species.



We thank Mr Philip J. Sirvid (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa) for his critical review of the manuscript, and Raymond Coory (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa) for assistance with the illustrations.



Clay, T. 1947. A preliminary key to the genera of Menoponidae. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 117: 457-477.        [ Links ]

Oliveira, H.H., R.H.F. Texeira, R.P. Mello & N.M. Serra-Freire. 2004. Estudo morfológico de Colpocephalum cholibae Price & Beer, 1963 (Phthiraptera, Menoponidae). Entomol. Vect. 11: 77-84.        [ Links ]

Palma, R.L., R.D. Price & R.A. Hellenthal. 1998. New synonymies and host records for lice of the genus Menacanthus (Phthiraptera: Menoponidae) from the Passeriformes (Aves). J. R.. Soc. N. Z. 28: 309-320.        [ Links ]

Price, R.D. & J.R. Beer. 1963a. The species of Colpocephalum (Mallophaga: Menoponidae) known to occur on the Strigiformes. J. Kans. Entomol. Soc. 36: 58-64.        [ Links ]

Price, R.D. & J.R. Beer. 1963b. The genus Kurodaia (Mallophaga: Menoponidae) from the Falconiformes, with elevation of the subgenus Falcomenopon to generic rank. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 56: 379-385.        [ Links ]

Price, R.D. & J.R. Beer. 1963c. Species of Colpocephalum (Mallophaga: Menoponidae) parasitic upon the Falconiformes. Can. Entomol. 95: 731-763.        [ Links ]

Price, R.D. & J.R. Beer. 1963d. The Kurodaia (Mallophaga: Menoponidae) parasitic on the Strigiformes, with a key to the species of the genus. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 56: 849-857.        [ Links ]

Price, R.D., R.A. Hellenthal & R.L. Palma. 2003. World checklist of chewing lice with host associations and keys to families and genera, p.1-448. In R.D. Price, R.A. Hellenthal, R.L. Palma, K.P. Johnson & D.H. Clayton (eds.), The chewing lice: world checklist and biological overview. Illinois, Illinois Natural History Survey Special Publication v. 24, 501p.        [ Links ]

Price, R.D., R.L. Palma & R.A. Hellenthal. 1997. New synonymies of chewing lice (Phthiraptera: Amblycera, Ischnocera) described from the Falconiformes (Aves). Eur. J. Entomol. 94: 537-545.        [ Links ]



Received 27/IV/06. Accepted 13/X/06.

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