Sheep Keds and Horse Louse Flies

Sheep keds or false lice are an important factor in sheep as they can cause extensive damage to wool.

The sheep ked (Melophagus ovis) and horse louse fly (Hippobosca spp.) live permanently on their host.

The sheep ked is only found on sheep. It is viviparous, has no wings and feeds on blood from its host. Sheep keds are usually easy to treat.

The horse louse fly is a false wingless fly. It feeds on horses and cattle where it remains between the hindlegs or under the tail of its host.

Both these parasites can cause anaemia if they are present in large numbers. They cause intense itching leading to scratching, stamping and biting. Animals that are already in poor condition are most likely to suffer.

sheep ked
Sucking mouthparts of a sheep ked
Prof. Dr. H. Mehlhorn, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf