Forum: External Morphology of Flea Larvae (Siphonaptera) and its Significance in Taxonomy

R. L. C. Pilgrim


More than 180 species and subspecies of larvae from all except 4 small families of fleas, and including at least 30% of known genera/subgenera, were examined with phase-contrast and/or scanning electron microscopy. A much greater variety of detailed from was revealed than appears in the literature. Especially significant are: numbers and patterns of setae and their topographical relations to sensilla on the thorax and abdomen; form of the setae, of which at least 9 types can be distinguished on the head, thorax and abdomen; form, arrangement and surface texture of sensory papillae on the antennal mound. Some of these features appear to be characteristic of, and restricted to, genera, subfamilies or higher taxonomic categories. Others, such as the shape of the mandible and their numbers of teeth, show considerable variation which does not clearly follow recognized classifications based on adult fleas; these may be more related to factors in the biology of specific larvae.

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