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The first record of Promyialges italicus Faradonbeh et al. 2019 (Acariformes: Epidermoptidae) in European Russia

Matyukhin, Alexandr V.1 and Yatsuk, Aleksandra A. 2

1✉ Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninskijprosp.33, 119071 Moscow, Russia.
2Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninskijprosp.33, 119071 Moscow, Russia.

2022 - Volume: 62 Issue: 1 pages: 94-98

Short note


feather mites Pseudolynchia canariensis Diptera


The skin mite Promyialges italicus Faradonbeh et al. 2019 (Acariformes: Epidermoptidae) was found on wings of a louse fly, Pseudolynchia canariensis (Macquart, 1840) (Diptera: Hippoboscidae,) from the Domestic Pigeon, Columba livia L., 1758 (Aves: Columbiformes). This is the first record of P. italicus in Russia.


Skin mites of the family Epidermoptidae (Astigmata: Analgoidea) are permanent ectoparasites, all stages of which are located on the skin of avian hosts (Dubinin 1953; Fain 1965; Mironov 1987, 1999; Gaud & Atyeo 1996; Mironov et al. 2005). Some representatives of these mites belonging to the subfamily Epidermoptinae and all genera of the subfamily Myialginae, have phoretic relations with louse flies (Diptera: Hippoboscidae) parasitizing birds and, more rarely, with chewing lice (Phthiraptera) associated with these vertebrates. Fertilized females of these mites use louse flies and chewing lice for dispersal and infecting other host individuals. While attached to these parasitic insects, females either use them only to transport onto a new host individual, or also lay eggs on the cuticle around the place of attachment. Moreover, females of the subfamily Myialginae gnaw through soft areas of the cuticle and feed on the haemolymph of insects (Büttiker & Černý, 1974; Büttiker 1948; Cooreman 1944; Dubinin 1950; Evans et al. 1963; Goater et al. 2018; Furman & Tarshis 1953; Hill et al. 1967; Hiregaudar 1956, 1957; Macchioni et al. 2005; Macchioni 2007; Marcelino et al. 2009; Madden & Harmon 1998; Mironov et al. 2005; Yamauchi & Kuroki 2009; Valim & Gazêta 2007; Whiteman et al. 2006).

The genus Promyialges Fain, 1964 (Epidermoptinae) currently includes five species, distributed mainly in the Northern hemisphere and found in associations with louse flies of the genera Icosta Speiser, 1905, Microlynchia Lutz, 1915, Ornithomyia Latreille, 1802, Pseudolynchia Bequaert, 1926 and Stilbometopa Coquillett, 1899 and on birds of the orders Accipitriformes, Columbiformes, Coraciformes, Cuculiformes, Falconiformes, Galliformes, Passeriformes, and Piciformes (Fain 1965; Philips & Fain 1991; Gaud & Atyeo 1996). The latest described species of this genus, Promyialges italicus Faradonbeh et al. 2019, was initially found on Pseudolynchia canariensis (Macquart, 1840) (Diptera: Hippoboscidae) from the Domestic Pigeons, Columba livia Gmelin, 1789, in Italy (Faradonbeh et al. 2019).

Our study reports P. italicus in Russia for the first time and provides some data of egg laying of this mite.

Material and methods

The material (louse flies with mites) was collected in August-September 2020 in Moscow, Russia, from the Domestic Pigeons, Columba livia, died of ornithosis (9 birds), and fixed in 96% ethanol. The mites have been found both on the louse fly Pseudolynchia canariensis wings (12 female mites from 10 louse flies) and on the skin of the recently dead birds (3 female mites). The flies and mites from the skin and feathers of dead birds were collected using the electors (Berlese's funnel) with lightbulb (25 watt) for 3 days. The mites were mounted on slides in Hoyer's medium according the standard technique used for small mites (Evans 1992; Krantz & Walter 2009) and examined with a Keyence BZ-9000 microscope. Mite specimens were identified using the key by Fain (1965) and the original description of P. italicus by Faradonbeh et al. (2019), and fly species based on the keys by Маа (1969) and Doszhanov (1980, 2003). The material used in the study is deposited in the collection of the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution (Moscow, Russia).

Results and discussion

Figure 1. Promyialges italicus, female. A – non-engorged female, ventral view, B – non-engorged female, dorsal view, C – tibiae and tarsi I and II, D – tibia and tarsus II.

Figure 2. Females and clutches of Promyialges italicus on Pseudolynchia canariensis. A – Ps. canariensis, ventral view; B– P. italicus females on ventral side of fly's wings, C –wreath of eggs of P. italicus on the ventral side of fly's wing. Arrow indicate mites on ventral side of wing.

Of 10 collected Ps. canariensis louse flies (females), 7 carried the epidermoptid mites. On each fly, the females of P. italicus (Figures 1A–F) were found on the ventral surfaces of the basal parts of wings and surrounded by a wreath of eggs attached to the cuticle around the mite (Figures 2A–C). The number of eggs around P. italicus females varied from 5 to 35 (Table 1).

Table 1. Numbers of females of Promyialges italicus and eggs in clutches.

The louse fly Ps. canariensis is an obligate species-specific ectoparasite of the Domestic Pigeons; it was reported from this avian host in many countries of the Old World: Africa (Congo, Egypt, South Africa, Uganda, Zaire), America (Cuba, USA), Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Cyprus, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaya, Nepal, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey) and Europe (England) (Maa 1969; Philips & Fain 1991). This louse fly may carry mites of the families Epidermoptidae and Cheyletidae, and rarely chewing lice (Phthiraptera).

According to previous reports, the following mite species have been previously found on Ps. canariensis: ovigerous females of Myialges anchora Trouessart, 1906, M. falconis Fain, 1965, M. lophortyx Furman & Tarshis, 1953, М. macdonaldi Evans, Fain & Bafort, 1963, and P. italicus (Philips & Fain 1991; Feres & Flechtmann 1991; Faradonbeh et al. 2019); non-ovigerous females of Ornithocheyletia hallae Smiley, 1970 (Cheyletidae) (Bilal 2012; Smiley 1970).

Although the Domestic Pigeon is widely distributed throughout the world, P. italicus was previously found only in Italy, the country with a warm climate (Faradonbeh et al. 2019). The finding of P. italicus in European Russia shows that this species is widely distributed in Europe, essentially further to the north and east (up to 55º N, 37º E) than was originally known. This fact encourages further studies of distribution of epidermoptids species, which are able to infect domestic and synantropic birds.


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2022 Matyukhin, Alexandr V. and Yatsuk, Aleksandra A.
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