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The micromorphology of the blesbuck louse Damalinia (Damalinia) crenelata as observed under the scanning electron microscope

DOI: 10.4102/koedoe.v46i1.45

Keywords: Damaliscus dorcas phillipsi , Blesbuck , SEM , Damalinia crenelata

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The blesbuck is an important game animal on many game farms and reserves in South Africa. Damalinia crenelata, a biting louse, host-specific to the blesbuck, feed upon epidermal debris of this antelope, leading to severe skin irritation and dermatitis. Symptomatic scratching by the host aggravates these conditions. High infestations may lead to decreased population numbers. Live lice were collected from a blesbuck in the Rietvlei Nature Reserve and prepared for selectron microscopic investigation. Micrographs were recorded. The SEM investigation revealed several micromorphological features not previously described in D. crenelata. Besides the obvious anatomical differences in the reproductive organs of the male and female, several other differences were noted. The antennal flagellae showed morphological differences as well as certain features on the ventral surfaces of the head. Dorsally the forehead was markedly emarginated and showed an acute invagination (clypeo labral suture) in the pulvinal area. The ventral surface of the head clearly demonstrated the structures of the preantennal regions such as ventral carina, pulvinus, labrum, mandibles and clypeus. The epipharynx appeared as an underlying extension of the labrum. The rims of the clypeus were more raised and thickened in the female than in that of the male. The mandibles were not notched and were noted to be angular in shape. The three segments of each of the antennae of the male were thicker and more robust than than those of the female. This could suggest sexual dimorphism in this species. The sensilla basoconica comprised 10 pegs. Pit organs were seen within the pore organs. The prothorax and mesothorax were clearly distinguished. The abdominal segments showed six pairs of spiracles. The male andfemale terminalia were confirmed to be strongly sexually dimorphic. The three pairs oflegs each terminated in a single, long and slender, claw.


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