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Zootaxa 3893 (1): 077–100 /zootaxa /
Copyright © 2014 Magnolia Press
ISSN 1175-5326 (print edition)
ISSN 1175-5334 (online edition)
A review of the ectoparasitic mites (Acari: Dermanyssoidea) associated with
birds and their nests in Slovakia, with notes on identification of some species
Institute of Zoology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dúbravská cesta 9, 845 06 Bratislava, Slovakia.
Department of Zoology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University, Mlynská dolina B-1, 842 15 Bratislava, Slovakia.
CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, GPO Box 1700, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia. E-mail:
We review the parasitic mites of the superfamily Dermanyssoidea found in the nests of Slovakian domestic and wild birds
(and a few mammals), compiled from new data and literature sources. Three mite genera are included, namely Dermanyssus Dugès (Dermanyssidae), Ornithonyssus Sambon and Pellonyssus Clark & Yunker (Macronyssidae), in which we recognised nine reliably documented species. Pellonyssus is represented by one species, Dermanyssus by five species, and
Ornithonyssus by three species. We compiled information on the ecological requirements and host preferences of these
mite species, including data on geographic distribution, altitudinal distribution, and occurrence in different habitats and
nest types. An identification key to the species occurring in Slovakia is provided, together with taxonomic remarks on the
identification and external morphology of some selected species. Parasitic mites have been reported from 119 taxa of Slovakian vertebrates (including man), of which 108 belong to 17 orders of birds. Dermanyssus americanus Ewing and Ornithonyssus bursa (Berlese) are reported from Slovakia for the first time. Examination of older voucher material collected
in Slovakia revealed many misidentified specimens: the name Dermanyssus hirundinis (Hermann) has been widely used
for misidentified specimens of Dermanyssus carpathicus Zeman; D. americanus was confused with D. hirundinis; while
O. bursa has been confused with Ornithonyssus sylviarum (Canestrini & Fanzago). Slovakia is the second country in Europe with known occurrence of the genus Pellonyssus.
Key words: Acari, Mesostigmata, parasitic mites, Dermanyssus, Ornithonyssus, Pellonyssus, bird hosts, Slovakia
The mite superfamily Dermanyssoidea is the most ecologically diverse group of Mesostigmata (Walter & Shaw
2005). It includes many species of free-living predators that are abundant in soil, especially in the Hypoaspidinae
(Laelapidae). A basic free-living stock of this type appears to have given rise to a diverse range of families and
genera that are closely associated with vertebrate and invertebrate hosts (Radovsky 1969; Lindquist et al. 2009).
This large assemblage of derivative groups includes commensals, phoretics, and symbionts, as well as obligate
blood-feeding ectoparasites of mammals and birds. Parasitism in these families may be either temporary or
permanent, and some species have mixed feeding behaviour that includes blood-feeding as well as predation and
scavenging. Both parasitic and non-parasitic species can be found in large numbers in the nests and burrows made
by their vertebrate hosts. At least one species, Dermanyssus gallinae (de Geer), attacks the domestic hen and other
captive birds, and can cause huge economic losses (Sparagano et al. 2014).
Some of these species of mites occasionally infest man, and some transmit diseases to humans. Mite-borne
rickettsial pox, scrub typhus, and tick-borne pathogens have been relatively well studied, but mites have also been
found to transmit other rickettsial agents such as Rickettsia akari and Orientia tsutsugamushi. Reeves et al. (2006)
screened 25 species of dermanyssoid mites and found that they contained Anaplasma spp., Bartonella sp.,
Spiroplasma sp., Wolbachia sp., and other unclassified Rickettsiales. Non-tick acarines can also transmit or harbour
Accepted by O. Seeman: 28 Oct. 2014; published: 5 Dec. 2014
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APPENDIX. Host distribution summary (based on records from Slovakia):
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes Vieillot, 1816
Accipiter gentilis (Linnaeus, 1758), Northern Goshawk
Dermanyssus hirundinis, Ornithonyssus sylviarum
Aquila chrysaetos (Linnaeus, 1758), Golden Eagle
Dermanyssus carpathicus, Ornithonyssus sylviarum
Aquila heliaca Savigny, 1809, Eastern Imperial Eagle
Dermanyssus sp.
Buteo buteo (Linnaeus, 1758), Common Buzzard
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