Department of Biology, Faculty of Science and Forestry, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland Department of Biology, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Turku, Turku, Finland School of Forest Sciences, Faculty of Science and Forestry, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, Helsinki, Finland Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Institute of Biomedicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland Department of Biomedicine/Anatomy, School of Medicine, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland.
The deer ked, Lipoptena cervi L. (Diptera: Hippoboscidae), is an ectoparasitic fly that spread to Finland in the early 1960s from the southeast across the Soviet border. It is currently a common parasite of the moose, Alces alces (Artiodactyla: Cervidae), in the southern part of the country and its area of distribution is gradually spreading to Finnish Lapland, where it will come into contact with another potential cervid host, the semi-domesticated reindeer, Rangifer tarandus tarandus. The aim of this study was to determine the intensity of deer ked parasitism on the moose in eastern Finland. Whole skins of 23 moose were examined for the presence of deer keds, which were extracted and their total numbers estimated. The intensity of deer ked parasitism was correlated to the age, sex, skin area and anatomical region of the host. Bulls had the highest total number of keds (10616 ± 1375) and the highest deer ked density (35.7 ± 4.4 keds/dm(2) of skin). Cows had a higher total number of keds than calves (3549 ± 587 vs. 1730 ± 191), but ked densities on cows and calves were roughly equal (11.8 ± 1.7 vs. 9.4 ± 1.1 keds/dm(2) of skin). The density of keds was highest on the anterior back, followed by the posterior back, front limbs, abdomen, head and hind limbs. The sex ratio of deer keds was close to equal (male : female, 1.0 : 1.1). After they had consumed blood, male keds were heavier than females. As the total numbers and densities of deer keds were higher than reported previously on moose or for any other louse fly species, the effects of parasitism on the health of the host species should be determined.