Ectoparasites of vertebrates are a major element of The Field Museum's Division of Insects collection. Large diverse and cosmopolitan collections for several groups of parasites provide the bases for comprehensive phylogenetic and biogeographic analyses. Many of these specimens also have excellent host data, making them a superb resource for parasite-host association and coevolutionary research, in addition to systematic and taxonomic studies. Given the obligatory relationship most ectoparasitic arthropods have with their vertebrate hosts, the host's body mostly or completely entails the universe of many parasite taxa. Our ectoparasite specimens are often associated with host voucher specimens in The Field Museum's mammal and bird collections. Because host vertebrates are vouchered with specimens and available for study alongside their parasites, coevolutionary biologists are able to measure the habitat parameters of the parasites and to confirm the host's true identity.
Most significant among the Field Museum's ectoparasite collection are the fly families Streblidae and Nycteribiidae (Diptera); our holdings of "bat flies" are unparalleled and include over 75% of the known world species, including types of 40% of known species. Recent field studies have expanded the collection to about 100,000 specimens. The chewing louse (Phthiraptera: Ischnocera and Amblycera) collection houses an estimated 20% of the described species-level taxa and has particularly important collections from the Neotropics. One of the most important Neotropical Phthiraptera collections housed here are a large series of tinamou (Aves: Tinamiformes) lice which were ruffled off of 1500 bird skins housed in The Field Museum's Bird Division collections. Ongoing research and collecting of chewing lice is expanding this collection. Significant percentages of all described species are present for ticks (Acari: Argasidae and Ixodidae), 50%; sucking lice (Phthiraptera: Anoplura), 30%; fleas (Siphonaptera), 30%, with types of over 250 species (including the R. E. Lewis collection); and parasitic mites from Australian and Neotropical hosts (fractions unknown).
Recent efforts to digitize these collections and move them to KE EMu have initially resulted in 13,776 searchable records of bat flies and 2,118 records of lice (Pthiraptera). This ongoing work is funded in large part by grants from the National Science Foundation to Jason D. Weckstein and John M. Bates (DEB-0515672, DEB-0618503), and Carl W. Dick et al. (DBI-0545051). We invite you to search our records for particular families, genera, or species of these ectoparasites, or to search for families, genera, or species of vertebrate hosts with ectoparasites represented in our collections. Please check back often, as specimen records are actively being added.
Users should note that the prefix "BF-" numbers used for collecting sites are database-generated site numbers; they have no historical significance and are not present on the specimen labels.
If you choose to enter more than one term in a field, only records with both terms will be returned.
Searches in EMu are automatically performed as whole-word wildcard searches, i.e., entering
Nycterophilia in the Scientific Name field will find all species (and undetermined material) of
that genus. Partial words may be entered using an asterisk (*) for a wildcard.
Searches will take more time with wildcards (*) in conjunction with partial words. Results are
sorted by Scientific Name, but if there are more than 5000 records in the result set, they will
be unsorted. If you choose to enter more than one term in a field, only records with both
terms will be returned.