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Lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera) are small, wingless insects, permanently parasitic on mammals and birds. The order is one of approximately thirty major groups of insects, and is divided into four suborders, three of which (the Amblycera, Ischnocera, and Rhynchophthirina) are known as chewing or biting lice, and the fourth (the Anoplura) as sucking lice. Amblycera and Ischnocera are found on both mammals and birds where as species of Rhynchophthirina and Anoplura are confined to mammals. In total there are approximately 5,000 known species, of which just under 70% are recorded from a single host species.


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