Stephanocircus sp., from here.

Belongs within: Mecopteroidea.
Contains: Ctenophthalmidae, Pulicidae, Malacopsylloidea, Ceratophyllidae, Pygiopsyllidae, Hystrichopsyllidae.

The Siphonaptera are the fleas, wingless parasites of birds and mammals. Modern fleas are laterally flattened, with strong jumping abilities. Larvae are vermiform and usually free-living in the nest or burrow of the host, feeding on organic debris. The Cretaceous Tarwinia australis is well supported as a stem flea; the Early Cretaceous Saurophthirus longipes, suggested to be a stem flea by Rasnitsyn (2002), is of more uncertain relationships. Saurophthirus longipes was a large (12 mm in length), long-legged insect that has been suggested to be an ectoparasite of pterosaurs. Tarwinia australis was more similar to modern fleas but the hind coxae were smaller; it also possessed ctenidia on the fore and hind tibiae rather than on the thorax (Giribet & Engel 2005). The classification of living fleas remains uncertain with higher taxa often defined by combinations of features rather than well defined synapomorphies (Dunnet & Mardon 1991).

Synapomorphies for Tarwinia and crown Siphonaptera (from Giribet & Engel 2005): Body laterally compressed; wings absent; thorax greatly reduced; antennal flagellum compact; pygidium with patch of sensilla.

Characters of crown Siphonaptera (from Rasnitsyn 2002): Size small. Body streamlined, compressed, apterous, usually with ctenidia (combs of backward-directed spines) on thoracic segments, sometimes also on head and some abdominal segments. Head hardly movable, with two stemmata only. Antenna 13-segmented, flagellum modified into tight club, hidden in groove, used as additional clasping device in male. Mouthparts piercing, with epipharyngeal and lacinial stylets, mandible lost, maxillary palp free, labial palp forming beak sheath. Thoracic nota subequal in length, metapleuron large due to leading role of hind leg in leaping, legs strong, not particularly long, saltatory, with 5-segmented tarsus and large clinging claws. Abdomen 10-segmented, with 10th bearing patch of specialised sensoria (sensilium), and cerci. Male with sternum 9 modified into clasping organ, with gonocoxa and gonostylus normally retained, volsella lost, external aedegus reduced and replaced by large endophallus in its intromittent function. Ovipositor lost. Digestive tract modified to digest blood (salivary pump, small proventriculus furnished with spines [acanthae] and used in disintegrating blood cells, large stomach). Four malpighian tubes. Ovaries neopanoistic. Larva worm-like, legless, 13-segmented, with head eyeless, one-segmented antenna, mandible of chewing type, weakly developed maxilla and labium, 10th abdominal sternum bearing unsegmented appendages possibly of cercal nature. Pupa adecticous, exarate, sometimes with mesothoracic outgrowths, enclosed in loose silk cocoon.

<==Siphonaptera [Aphaniptera, Pulicida]
    |--Saurophthiridae R02
    |    |--Saurophthirus longipes GE05
    |    `--Saurophthiroides mongolicus Ponomarenko 1986 RJ93
    `--+--Tarwinia australis GE05
       `--+--Pulicidae DM91
          |--Malacopsylloidea DM91
          `--Ceratophylloidea DM91
               |--Ceratophyllidae DM91
               |--Pygiopsyllidae DM91
               |--Xyphiopsyllidae DM91
               |--Ancistropsyllidae DM91
               |--Chimaeropsyllidae DM91
               |--Hystrichopsyllidae DM91
               |--Coptopsylla S00 [Coptopsyllidae DM91]
               |    `--C. lamellifer S00
               |--Vermipsylla GE05 [Vermipsyllidae DM91]
               |    `--V. alakurt GE05
               |--Leptopsylla [Leptopsyllidae] DM91
               |    `--L. segnis DM91
               |--Macropsyllidae DM91
               |    |--Macropsylla hercules DM91
               |    `--Stephanopsylla Rothschild 1911 DM91, T13
               |         `--*S. thomasi (Rothschild 1903) [=Stephanocircus thomasi] T13
               |--Stephanocircidae DM91
               |    |--Craneopsylla GE05 [Craneopsyllinae DM91]
               |    |    `--C. minerva GE05
               |    `--Stephanocircinae DM91
               |         |--Coronapsylla Traub & Dunnet 1973 D74
               |         |    `--C. jarvisi DM91
               |         `--Stephanocircus DM91
               |              |--S. dasyuri DM91
               |              `--S. pectinipes M70
               `--Ischnopsyllidae DM91
                    |--Ischnopsyllus octatenus A71
                    |--Lagaropsylla mera DM91
                    |--Coorilla longictena DM91
                    |--Serendipsylla marshalli DM91
                    |--Myodopsylla GE05
                    |    |--M. collinsi BVP96
                    |    `--M. gentilis GE05
                    `--Porribius DM91
                         |--P. bathyllus D70
                         `--P. caminae DM91

Siphonaptera incertae sedis:
  Tarsopsylla A71
  Cediopsylla simplex A71
  Odontopsylla multispinosus A71
  Atyphloceras A71
    |--A. bishopi A71
    `--A. nuperus A71
  Callopsylla waterstoni A71
  Frontopsylla laeta A71
  Megabothris A71
    |--M. quirini A71
    |--M. turbidus A71
    `--M. walkeri A71
  Typhlocerus poppei A71
  Nycteridopsylla A71
  Malaraeus penicilliger A71
  Peromyscopsylla silvatica A71
  Nearctopsylla brooksi A71
  Ornithopsylla laetitiae A71
  Myoxopsylla laverani KK54
  Euhoplopsyllus glacialis GE05
  Niwratia elongata GE05
  Chiastopsylla rossi SEC08
  Macroscelidopsylla albertyni SEC08
  Plocopsylla scotinomi Tipton & Mendez 1966 S69
  Ctenophthalmidae GE05
  Glaciopsyllus antarcticus N91
  Micropsylloides Ewing 1938 E38
    `--*M. jaonis [=Rhadinopsylla jaonis] E38
  Micropsylla E38
  Trichopsylloides Ewing 1938 E38
    `--*T. oregonensis Ewing 1938 E38
  Trichopsylla E38
  Citellophilus tesquorum S00
  Monopsyllus ciliatus S00
    |--M. c. cilatus S00
    `--M. c. protinus S00

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A71] Askew, R. R. 1971. Parasitic Insects. Heinemann Educational Books: London.

[BVP96] Batalla, I. B., M. Vargas & O. J. Polaco. 1996. Arthropods associated with Myotis thysanodes Müller 1897, in San Josecito Cave, Nuevo Léon, México. In: Mitchell, R., D. J. Horn, G. R. Needham & W. C. Welbourn (eds) Acarology IX vol. 1. Proceedings pp. 109–111. Ohio Biological Survey: Columbus (Ohio).

[D70] Dunnet, G. M. 1970. Siphonaptera (fleas). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers pp. 647–655. Melbourne University Press.

[D74] Dunnet, G. M. 1974. Siphonaptera (fleas). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers. Supplement 1974 pp. 91. Melbourne University Press.

[DM91] Dunnet, G. M., & D. K. Mardon. 1991. Siphonaptera (fleas). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers 2nd ed. vol. 2 pp. 705–716. Melbourne University Press: Carlton (Victoria).

[E38] Ewing, H. E. 1938. Two new genera and one new species of Siphonaptera. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 40 (4): 93–95.

[GE05] Grimaldi, D., & M. S. Engel. 2005. Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University Press: New York.

[KK54] Klemmer, K., & H. E. Krampitz. 1954. Zur Kenntnis der Säugetierfauna Siziliens. Senckenbergiana Biologica 35 (3–4): 121–135.

[M70] Mackerras, I. M. 1970. Evolution and classification of the insects. In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers pp. 152–167. Melbourne University Press.

[N91] Norris, K. R. 1991. General biology. In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers 2nd ed. vol. 1 pp. 68–108. Melbourne University Press: Carlton (Victoria).

[R02] Rasnitsyn, A. P. 2002. Order Pulicida Billbergh, 1820. The fleas (=Aphaniptera). In: Rasnitsyn, A. P., & D. L. J. Quicke (eds) History of Insects pp. 240–242. Kluwer Academic Publishers: Dordrecht.

[RJ93] Ross, A. J., & E. A. Jarzembowski. 1993. Arthropoda (Hexapoda; Insecta). In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 363–426. Chapman & Hall: London.

[SEC08] Shihepo, F., S. Eiseb & P. Cunningham. 2008. Fleas (Insecta: Siphonaptera) associated with small mammals in selected areas in northern Namibia. Journal Namibia Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft 56: 5–23.

[S00] Siddiqi, M. R. 2000. Tylenchida: Parasites of plants and insects 2nd ed. CABI Publishing: Wallingford (UK).

[S69] Steyskal, G. C. 1969. The mistreatment of the Latin genitive case in forming names of parasites. Systematic Zoology 18 (3): 339–342.

[T13] Taylor, C. K. 2013. Annotated bibliography for Barrow Island terrestrial invertebrates. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 83: 135–144.

Last updated: 24 April 2022.

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