Rearing and Maintaining a Laboratory Colony of Body Lice on Rabbits

G. H. Culpepper
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Body lice (Pediculus humanus corporis Deg.) were reared successfully for 25 generations on certain common domesticated rabbits. The individual rabbits differed considerably in their suitability as hosts, and of 97 tested only 7 proved to be favorable. Additional favorable individuals were found among the off-spring of mated favorable pairs. The longevity and fecundity of the lice on these hosts and of the lice in the original colony maintained on man appeared to be nearly equal.

After 10 generations on favorable rabbits, newly hatched nymphs were transferred to unfavorable rabbits and a second colony was successfully established on them. Within a few generations longevity and egg production had reached a satisfactory level. Although egg production was about a third lower than the average for lice fed on favorable hosts, it was sufficient to maintain a vigorous colony.

Lice collected from a naturally infested man were reared for three generations on favorable rabbits and appeared to be doing as well as those from the inbred laboratory colony.

When lice were compared for their susceptibility to pyrethrum and DDT, no marked differences were found between those reared on man and those reared on either favorable or unfavorable rabbits.

Author Notes

U. S. Dept. Agriculture, Agr. Res. Adm., Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine, Orlando, Florida.