Menacanthus spp

Menacanthus are a genus of chewing lice that are common ectoparasites of chickens. There are four species within this genus which affect chickens---M. stramineus, M. cornutus, M. pallidulus, and M. zumpti. M. stramineus is referred to as the "Chicken Body Louse" and is one of the most common lice found in free-range and backyard flocks worldwide.

Menacanthus are 3.5 mm long with straw-colored bodies. They move very fast, and will quickly scatter when exposed to light. Menacanthus live close to the bird's skin and feed mainly on feather debris, but sometimes on blood. They are found around the vent, breast, head, and underneath the wings. The female's eggs are found cemented in clusters along the base of the chicken's feathers.



  • Order: Phthiraptera
  • Family: Menoponidae
  • Genus: Menacanthus


  • Chickens
  • Guinea fowl
  • Pheasants
  • Peafowl
  • Turkey

Associated Diseases