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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Cladus: Panarthropoda
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Classis: Insecta
Cladus: Dicondylia
Subclassis: Pterygota
Cladus: Metapterygota
Infraclassis: Neoptera
Cladus: Eumetabola
Cladus: Endopterygota
Superordo: Panorpida
Cladus: Antliophora
Ordo: Siphonaptera
Infraordo: Pulicomorpha
Superfamilia: Pulicoidea

Familia: Tungidae
Genus: Hectopsylla
Synonyms (1): Rhynchopsyllus

Species (13): H. broscus – H. coniger – H. cypha – H. eskeyi – H. gemina – H. gracilis – H. knighti – H. narium – H. pascuali – H. psittaci – H. pulex – H. stomis – H. suarezi

Hectopsylla Frauenfeld, 1860

selected references

Blank, S.M. et al. 2007: Stick-tight fleas in the nostrils and below the tongue: evolution of an extraordinary infestation site in Hectopsylla (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae). Zoological journal of the Linnean Society, 149(1): 117–137. DOI: 10.1111/j.1096-3642.2006.00239.x
Hastriter, M.W.; Mendez, E. 2000: A review of the flea genera Hectopsylla Frauenfeld and Rhynchopsyllus Haller (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 102(3): 613–624. BHL


Nomenclator Zoologicus

Hectopsylla is a genus of fleas in the family Hectopsyllidae that parasitize non-volant mammals, birds, and bats. The genus comprises thirteen species, six of which were described in whole or part by Karl Jordan between 1906–1942. Two of the species in Hectopsylla, H. psittaci and H. pulex, go under common names, with H. psittaci identified as the sticktight flea and H. pulex identified as the chiggerflea. Hastritter and Méndez (2000) consider the genus Rhynchopsyllus a junior system of the genus.

Hastritter and Méndez (2000) state that Rhynchopsyllus is a junior system of Hectopsylla. The type species, by monotypy, is H. psittaci.[1]


Hectopsylla psittaci

Hectopsylla pulex





Cladogram table showing Hectopsylla in the superfamily Pulicoidea, with select species (note: not a phylogenetic tree)
External images
image icon Annotated image of a flea, taken from Jerome Goddard, Flea-Borne Diseases
image icon Species of Hectopsylla, including H. narium, H. knighti, H. psittaci and H. pulex, taken from Blank et al. 2007
image icon The chiggerflea H. pulex attached to a male lesser long-nosed bat, taken from Hastriter et al. 2014
Map of Argentina with provinces labeled
H. gracilis, H. narium, and H. pascuali were observed in the Chubut, Río Negro, and Neuquén provinces, respectively, in Argentina

There are thirteen species in the genus Hectopsylla.[1][2]

Hectopsylla broscus (Jordan & Rothschild, 1906)

H. broscus is described as similar to H. coniger, but the bristles of the head are longer, with the proportion of the second segment of the maxillary palpus to the fourth segment being 7:11 in H. broscus and 8:10 in H. coniger. The angle of its frons were described as strongly rounded. In the thorax, the metasternite and pro-processes are narrower, with the meta-thoracic epimerum having three bristles, but rarely four or two. The tarsi of the legs are longer than in H. coniger, with the fifth segment especially being longer. Separate from a vertical row of bristles near the eighth tergite were three or four additional bristles, with the additional bristles not present in H. coniger. A series of twelve female specimen of H. broscus were found on Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk Conepatus humboldtii in Central Pampa, Argentina, in or prior to 1906.[3]

Hectopsylla coniger (Jordan & Rothschild, 1906)

The species can be recognized by the fifth tarsal segment over both sexes, the sexual organs of the male, and the metathoracical epimerum of the female, which is curved. On the head, the frons of the female is "strongly angulate", with the male frons rounded strongly. The metathorax's episternum produces into a triangular process in both sexes. In number, the bristles on its legs are fewer than that of H. psittaci, and its hind femur is shorter than H. psittaci. One male specimen and fourteen female specimen were collected from the hog-nosed skunk Conepatus arequipae in Pampa Olliga, Bolivia, in October 1901.[3]

Hectopsylla cypha (Jordan, 1942)

H. cypha was first described by Karl Jordan in 1942.

Hectopsylla eskeyi (Jordan, 1933)

H. eskeyi was first described by Jordan in 1933.

Hectopsylla gemina (Jordan, 1939)

H. gemina was first described by Jordan in 1939.

Hectopsylla gracilis (Mahnert, 1982)

H. gracilis was first described based on a collection of specimen from Eligmodontia typus as well as collection from unidentified rodents from Puerto Madryn, Chubut Province, Argentina; its name derives from the slender process of its metepimeron. The species can be identified by a short, broadly triangular maxillary, with a short genal lobe and, normally, four bristles on its metepimeron. H. gracilis keys near H. ekeyi, H. suarezi, and H. cypha. It is differentiated from those species by its metepimeron, the shorter process of its lateral metanotal area, and the number of bristles on its abdominal terga.[4] The species has been observed on Akodon caenosus.[5]

Hectopsylla knighti (Traub & Gammons, 1950)

Its description was based on a sole female specimen taken from an unknown species of swift in Michoacán, Mexico.[6] H. knighti was the first species in Hectopsylla to be described outside of South America.[7]

Hectopsylla narium (Blank et al., 2007)

The species was found on 204 of 308 nestlings of the burrowing parrot Cyanoliseus patagonus patagonus observed near El Cóndor [es], Río Negro Province, Patagonia. "Freshly-emerged" H. narium adults can jump up to 25 centimetres (9.8 in) horizontally, and vivaciously crawl. Once anchored on skin of the host, females of the species become sessile. Males of the species were observed in the nostrils of the burrowing parrot, but never feeding on nestlings; males and females mated in nasal cavities. The presence of the species in nasal cavities effectuated breathing difficulties in the parrot. Females stuck on nestlings until their death.[2]

Hectopsylla pascuali (Beaucournu and Alcover, 1990)

H. pascuali was first described in a 1989 paper that examined 973 fleas from Neuquén Province, Argentina. One male and four females were recorded, with three females taken from the Andean long-clawed mouse Chelemys macronyx in Arroyo Chapelco.[8]

Hectopsylla psittaci (von Frauenfeld, 1860)

Labelled map of counties in Arizona
H. pulex has been found in Cochise County, Arizona

H. psittaci is also referred to by the common name "stick-tight flea" or "sticktight flea".[9] The flea has been observed from northern Chile on Markham's storm petrel Oceanodroma markhami to Marin County, California on the American cliff swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota; based on their age, the American cliff swallows on which the fleas were found had migrated at least once from their winter range in Uruguay, central Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil, which lead the authors to state their presence might have been a natural introduction of the flea to California.[10][11] H. psittaci was found on shama and dhyal birds in the London Zoological Gardens, an apparent result of introduction from an American bird,[12] and on various live pigeons that used zoos as a source for food and shelter.[10] Its maxilla is curved slightly forward and short, compared to the long maxilla in H. pulex. The female frons is longer than the male frons. In the thorax, its epimerum is round above, and narrows ventrally; in the abdomen, segments two to seven of the sternites lack bristles. Its claw has a "distinct basal projection."[3]

Hectopsylla pulex (Haller, 1880)

In the United States, H. pulex has been found on the lesser long-nosed bat Leptonycteris yerbabuenae in Cochise County, Arizona.[6] H. pulex is also referred to by the common name "chiggerflea" or "chigger flea".[13]

Hectopsylla stomis (Jordan, 1925)

H. stomis was first described by Jordan in 1925.

Hectopsylla suarezi (C. Fox, 1929)

H. suarezi, also known as H. suarez, was first described by Fox in 1929.

Hastritter, Michael W.; Méndez, Eustorgio (2000). "A review of the flea genera Hectopsylla frauenfeld and Rhynchopsyllus haller (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae)". Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 102 (3): 615.
Blank, Stephen M.; Kutzscher, Christian; Masello, Juan F.; Pilgrim, Robert L. C.; Quillfeldt, Petra (2007). "Stick-tight fleas in the nostrils and below the tongue: evolution of an extraordinary infestation site in Hectopsylla (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae)". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 149 (1): 117–137. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2006.00239.x.
Boyce, Rubert; Sherrington, Charles S., eds. (1906). The Thompson Yates and Johnston Laboratories Report. Vol. 7. Williams & Norgate. pp. 59–63.
Manhert, Volker (1982). "Two new flea species in the genre Plocopsylla Jordan and Hectopsylla Frauenfeld (Insecta, Siphonaptera) from Argentina". Revue Suisse de Zoologie. 89 (2): 567, 570–572. doi:10.5962/bhl.part.82460.
Lareschi, Marcela; Sanchez, Juliana P.; Ezquiaga, M. Cecilia; Autino, Analía G.; Díaz, M. Mónica; et al. (2010). "Fleas Associated with Mammals from Northwestern Argentina, with New Distributional Reports". Comparative Parasitology. 77 (2): 212. doi:10.1654/4448.1. S2CID 85420515.
Hastriter, Michael W.; Meyer, Michael D.; Sherwin, Richard D.; Dittmar, Katharina (2014). "New distribution and host records for Hectopsylla pulex Haller (Siphonaptera, Tungidae) with notes on biology and morphology". ZooKeys (389): 1–7. doi:10.3897/zookeys.389.7042. PMC 3974428. PMID 24715770.
Johnson, Phyllis Truth (1957). A Classification of the Siphonaptera of South America: With Descriptions of New Species. Entomological Society of Washington. p. 233.
Beaucournu, J. C.; Alcover, J. A. (1989). "Puces récoltées dans la province de Neuquén (Argentine); description de 4 nouveaux taxa (Insecta, Siphonaptera)" [Fleas from Neuquén Province (Argentina); description of 4 new taxa (Insecta, Siphonaptera)]. Ann. Parasitol. Hum. Comp. (in French). 64 (6): 489–494. doi:10.1051/parasite/1989646489. PMID 2624378.
Schwan, Tom C.; Higgins, M. Louise; Nelson, Bernard C. (1983). "Hectopsylla Psittaci, a South American Sticktight Flea (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae), Established in Cliff Swallow Nests in California, USA". Journal of Medical Entomology. 20 (6): 690–692. doi:10.1093/jmedent/20.6.690.
Nelson, Bernard C.; Wolf, Carol A.; Sorrie, Bruce A. (1979). "The Natural Introduction of Hectopsylla Psittaci, a Neotropical Sticktight Flea (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae), on Cliff Swallows in California, USA". Journal of Medical Entomology. 16 (6): 548–549. doi:10.1093/jmedent/16.6.548.
Cerpa, Patrich; Medrano, Fernando; Peredo, Ronny (2018). "Jumps from desert to the sea: presence of the stick–tight flea Hectopsylla psittaci in Markham's Storm–petrel (Oceanodroma markhami) in the north of Chile". Revista Chilena de Ornitología (in Spanish). Unión de Ornitólogos de Chile. 24 (1): 40–42.
Rothschild, Walter S.; Hartert, Ernst; Jordan, K., eds. (1906). Novitates Zoologicae: A Journal of Zoology. Vol. 13. Hazell, Watson & Viney. p. 171.
Lins Luz, Júlia; de Moraes Costa, Luciana; Gomes, Luiz Antonio Costa; Esbérard, Carlos Eduardo Lustosa (July 2009). "The chiggerflea Hectopsylla pulex (Siphonaptera: Tungidae) as an ectoparasite of free-tailed bats (Chiroptera: Molossidae)". Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz. 104 (4): 567–569. doi:10.1590/S0074-02762009000400005. PMID 19722077.

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