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(Melophagus ovinus), also sheep tick, a wingless insect of the family Hippoboscidae; an ectoparasite of sheep. The body is slightly flattened horizontally, yellowish brown in color, and 4–7 mm long. The female bears 20–30 larvae in a lifetime, attaching them to the lower ends of the sheep’s hair. The larvae pupate after several hours, and the imagoes emerge three to four weeks later. Six to ten generations develop annually.
The adult sheep ked feeds on blood from the host’s cutaneous vessels, which have been traumatized by the insect’s proboscis. Sheep are most commonly infected during the winter and spring; during shearing as many as 90 percent of the sheep keds are removed with the wool. Parasitized animals become thin and emaciated and lose their wool; lambs often die. To control infestation, sheep are dusted with insecticides during the cold season and bathed in antiparasitic solutions during the warm season. Both types of treatment are repeated after 25 to 30 days.