Encyclopedia of Parasitology

Living Edition
| Editors: Heinz Mehlhorn

Tunga penetrans Survey

  • Heinz Mehlhorn
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27769-6_4449-1


Indian: tung – penetrating organism.



Species of fleas, Aphaniptera, family Tungidae.

General Information

This flea species is found in dry regions of the tropics in South and Central America, Africa, and Australia. It is not host-specific and attacks many warm-blooded hosts such as canids, cats, cattle, rats, and other rodents, as well as humans and pigs. The unfed males and females (Figs. 1 and 2) are only 0.8–1 mm in length. They are thus one of the smallest species out of the 3,000 species known worldwide. By the help of their swordlike mouthparts (Fig. 2), the females penetrate head forward ( Echidnophaga) into the host’s epidermis and start growing for about 3–4 weeks, while drinking blood. Especially the region of the second and third abdominal segments becomes enormously enlarged (Figs. 4 and 5), so that the whole flea finally reaches diameters of up to 1 cm: The...


Life Cycle Larval Stage Biological Feature General Information Larval Development 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für ZoomorphologieZellbiologie und Parasitologie Universitätsstraße 1DüsseldorfGermany