Booklice, Barklice, Biting and Sucking Lice

Order: Psocodea

Until relevantly recently this order was split into two separate orders, the booklice and barklice of the order Psocoptera, and the ‘true’ lice of the order Phthiraptera, Forty families are known in Australia, with around 800 species described, of these 26 families and around 500 species are from Psocoptera, the remaining 14 families and some 300 species from Phthiraptera. Booklice and other psocid lice can be wingless or winged (membranous), with large head, biting mouthparts and protruding eyes at rear of sides of head. While a small number may feed on books and similar stored cellulose products, the vast majority feed on minute organic particles on vegetation, under fallen timber or rocks, or within the soil. Biting and sucking lice are specialised external parasites of birds and mammals that rely on their selected hosts for their own survival. Should their host die, the drop in temperature stimulates the lice to move toward the extremities of the host, where they themselves will also die if another suitable host is not found in time. These lice are wingless, with dorsoventrally flattened body, biting or sucking mouthparts, and very short, stubby antennae. Eyes either greatly reduced in size or absent.