Blowing on Bats. For Science.

louse fly from WikimediaIn Bug Grad School I learned about a crazy group of flies called Hippoboscidae, or louse flies.  These flies have adopted an ectoparasitic lifestyle, which means they live on other animals much like a tick or a louse. Most have lost their wings in the evolutionary scrabble to live on fur or feathers.

Having only ever seen these preserved in jars, or from engravings, I was very excited to find a video of one of these alive! Even better, it was a bat ked, which are really cool.

Things I learned today:

  • You collect bat parasites by blowing gently on the bat’s fur.
  • Carl Dick at Western Kentucky University is a master at blowing on bats, and specializes in Hippoboscids, which has to be pretty darn fascinating work.
  • Bats do not enjoy being blown upon.

Here you go: Blowing on Bats For Science.

Here’s a view of a ked on the fluffy part of a bat.  Warning: the squeamish may be creeped by this, because there is scurrying about. But it is AWESOME scurrying about, IMHO.

Standard disclaimers: Only professionals should blow on bats. Do not blow on bats without training and proper equipment. Do not taunt bats.

Thanks so much to BioInFocus for finding these videos!

4 thoughts on “Blowing on Bats. For Science.

  1. Ah! Batflies! I did a term project on Nycteribiids and Streblids in Florida, so these are close to my heart! I wish I could encounter some myself, but I do not have rabies vaccination!

  2. For interest sake, many sparrows have actual Hippobscids which tend to abandon ship when mist-netted…If you are a first-year ento student and need an odd family, visit a bird banding station!

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