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  • Of Lice and Men

    Fri, 16 Sep 2011 15:02

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    My parents live in a very idyllic thatched cottage in Dorset on England's south coast. Recently, and at great expense and bother the thatch needed to be replaced, and a very professional job was done by the local thatchers.

    Only some days later did things start crawling from the roof. Actually just one type of thing - just thousands and thousands of them. Distressed by not being able to see much through the windows due to the bodies of crawling mites and concerned by the thought that they were devouring the new thatch, my father wrote to (as you would) the Science Advisor to the National Society of Master Thatchers. Some correspondence ensued and with some examples of dead mites sent through the post, the culprits were identified as booklice (Liposcelis bostrychophila). The science advisor reassured that they were not eating the thatch, indeed it was somewhat of a mystery as to how they got in the reed at all.

    He also supplied some fantastic pictures of the sample sent through - which I thought, given the name of the beast, might be of interest!

    (With many thanks to Dr Roger Angold)

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