Parasites and Diseases
Sheep Ked

Sheep Ked, Wingless fly

Dall's sheep ked, Melophagus montanus. US dime for scale

What are keds?

  • Keds are a 'wingless' fly that bites the host's skin
  • They are often mistaken for ticks but they are a hippoboscid fly

Where are keds found?

  • Domestic sheep have one species, Melophagus ovinus and Dall's sheep in Alaska, Yukon and Siberia have a different species, Melophagus montanus
  • Most reports are from the Wrangell mountains, central Alaska range and southward
  • Lambs are infected by their dams at birth
  • The keds only infect sheep, are spread directly from animal to animal and cannot live off the sheep

What are the signs of keds?

  • Keds are small, brown insects crawling through the wool of Dall's sheep
  • They feed by biting the skin and sucking blood, causing irritations, crusty scabs, hair loss from itching
  • Large numbers could cause weakness from blood loss in young animals or after the rut

How can I protect myself?

  • You cannot get lice from Dall's sheep
  • Heavy infestations may be a sign of a sick animal

Can I eat the meat?

  • Meat from affected animals is suitable for human consumption

Samples to collect

  • Whole keds, put in crush proof container
  • Sample of skin with hairloss, lung sample if abnormal
  • Report occurrence and submit samples by contacting the DWC Wildlife Health and Disease reporting line 907-328-8354, send and email to or visit your local ADF&G office