Deer ked, SEM

Deer ked, SEM

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Caption: Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a deer ked (Lipoptena cervi). L. cervi lives as an ectoparasite on deer, moose and other cervids, burrowing through the fur and sucking the blood of the host. While the deer ked may on occasion bite humans, which may result in intense itching around the bite mark, the ked cannot utilise humans as a host. Specialized claws help the deer ked cling to and move through dense fur. The body is flattened and covered with spines, making its removal difficult. The deer ked has an unusual reproductive life cycle. The female produces a single larva and retains the developing larva in her body until it is ready to pupate. Pupae fall to the ground, hatch during the following autumn and fly off to locate a host, preferably deer. Deer ked are winged when they emerge from their puparium, but lose their wings on settling on a host, where they remain for the remainder of their life. Magnification: x20 when printed at 10cm wide.

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