What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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This family consists of 2 genera, one on Neotropical humming-birds and the other ( Ricinus ) parasitising small passerines of several families. Ricinus is found on several passerine families in Tas. and south-eastern Australia. These lice seem incongruously large relative to the size of their hosts.


Head relatively large; mouth-parts mandibulate. Antennae concealed in grooves, generally capitate, usually 4-segmented, 3rd segment wineglass-shaped; mandibles horizontal; maxillary palps 2-4-segmented; meso- and metathorax usually separate. Tarsi with paired claws; on birds, marsupials, canids. Abdominal segment 1 fused to thorax; spiracles on apparent segments 2-7. (Head elongate in Ricinus ; base of antennae widely removed posteriorly from base of maxillary palps).

  • Ricinus ernstlangi  from Turdus merula (Blackbird), female