In 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!