Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Burruss McDaniel


The ecologies of chewing lice (Insecta:Mallophaga) which parasitize sharp-tailed grouse, Pedioecetes phasianellus, were studied in southwestern South Dakota from 1964 to 1967. Five hundred twenty-eight hens, cocks and chicks were collected and examined for louse damage. Louse populations were monitored each month from December, 1964, to September, 1967. Five louse species which infested grouse in the study area were Goniodes nebraskensis Carriker, Amyrsidea megalosoma Overgaard, Lagopoecus perplexus Kellogg and Chapman, Goniocotes chrysocephalus and Lipeurus maculosis Clay. Goniodes nebraskensis fed on feather parts and skin debris and was found to have seasonally fluctuating populations. Cocks carried peak populations of 250 lice/host during June. Hens and chicks carried peak populations in July, averaging 169 and 32 lice/host, respectively. It was concluded that G. nebraskensis had little effect on its host. Amyrsidea megalosoma was found on 21% of the cocks, 15% of the hens and 19% of the chicks examined. The intensities of infestations of this species were the highest of the five species observed. Infestations of over 1,000 lice/host were found frequently on breeding cocks from April to June. Populations of this species during the remainder of the year were very small. These lice fed on blood and epidermal cells as well as feather parts. Athlete's foot fungi, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, were isolated from skin lesions which were common on the throats and heads of breeding cocks which were infested with Amyrsidea megalosoma. A definite association was evident between the A. megalosoma and T. mentagrophytes. Cocks heavily infested with A. megalosoma weighed less than lightly and uninfested cocks. This species caused its host serious irritations and was observed gnawing the skin and eating blood. Because hens were infested to a far lesser degree, A. megalosoma was concluded to have no important effect on egg production and reproductive success. Lagopoecus perplexus infested 19% of the cocks, 5% of the hens and 6% of the chicks. This species was an occasional parasite of dancing cocks during April, May and June. It was not recovered during five months of the year. It had little effect on the hosts examined. Feather parts were found in the crops of this louse. The species inhabited the head, neck and wings of sharptails. Goniocotes chrysocephalus and Lineurus maculosis, normally parasites of the ring-necked pheasant, were found on less than 1% of the grouse. Goniocotes chrysocephalus was found on four dancing cocks. All stages of this louse were present, indicating an ability to reproduce. and complete its life cycle on this host. Lipeurus maculosis was found on four grouse (a cock, a hen and two chicks). All stages of this species also were present, indicating an ability to complete the life cycle on sharptails. During the months of peak infestations by the five louse species, submean host weights were recorded. Weights of cocks declined at a rate of 3O grams/month from a peak mean of 938.1 grams in April to 835.2 grams in July and August. Louse infestations began to climb in April and reached a peak in June. Louse populations on cocks dropped sharply during July from a mean of 825 to 40 lice/bird. The overriding conclusion drawn from this research was that natural infestations of lice have a very minor effect on wild sharptail populations and detrimentally affect only a few individual birds.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Sharp-tailed grouse
Upland game birds -- South Dakota



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University

Included in

Entomology Commons