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What the lice look like: familiar with the features of the appearance and biology of parasites

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We get acquainted with the features of the appearance and biology of different types of lice, see how they look and how to multiply.

Lice are obligate external parasites of mammals. These insects have adapted to live in animal hair and feed exclusively on their blood, they cannot live outside the host's coat and specialize in only one species or only a few closely related species of animals.

For example, a human louse can only live on humans and some monkeys. Elephant head lice can only affect elephants, and hare only hares. Lice of one mammal species cannot infect other species.

Lice feed exclusively on blood.

So, the cat eater is not able to parasitize a person, and human louse does not live on pets (Many, without knowing it, often seriously suspect whether their children have become infected from a cat or a dog). So far, scientists have not found lice only among representatives of the marsupial order.

It is interesting

Birds have their own peculiar group of insects, called lice.They are more diverse than the head lice itself, and it is believed that they cause generally less inconvenience to their hosts than the parasites of mammals. Lice, parasites on animals, in science are called lashes, and in addition to blood, some of them can feed on skin cells and secretions of the host glands.

Human louse for a short by evolutionary standards, human dwelling on the planet has managed to divide into two forms, which theoretically can turn into different species. One of these forms lives on the head and is called head lice, the other lives in clothes and is called clothes (or otherwise - clothes louse).

The photo shows the head louse with a significant increase

Linen louse on fabric

They can produce viable offspring, but due to the fact that in real conditions they practically do not meet together, do not mate and more and more separate.

In addition to these forms, man also parasitic pubic louse, which is significantly different from the head and body lice in size, lifestyle and its appearance.


What do lice look like?

Lice are fairly small insects. In the photo under a microscope, they can notice all the attributes inherent in their biological appearance - six legs, body segments, head and chest, antennae:

Head louse under the microscope

Pubic louse under a microscope

Below are some more photos of human lice.It is characteristic that at all stages of development they do not have wings, like their relatives, eaters:

Lice do not have wings

Head louse on hair

And here is what a dog eater looks like

Without a microscope, lice look like tiny light gray insects. Body lice are a bit lighter and appear almost white. Pubic lice are the darkest, and their body is shortened, due to which they resemble small crabs.

Among the hair of parasites is quite difficult to identify. You can look at how lice look, for example, on a light fabric, on a palm, or on a finger.

On the picture - louse wardrobe on the finger:

Body lice on the finger

And in the following photo you can see how the lice look in the hair - their normal habitat:

Hair louse

Another photo of a head louse

In size, the head louse reaches a maximum of 4 mm, usually about 2-3 mm, and the wardrobe is the same. Pubic louse - the smallest, has a body length of 1-2 mm. In the picture, pubic lice are well distinguished by quite massive, strong legs and a rounded body:

The picture clearly distinguishes between head and pubic louse.

On a note

It will be quite difficult for a non-specialist to distinguish a louse from a licker without a microscope. However, you can always be sure: if the parasite is caught on a person, it is a human or pubic louse.


What is the difference between different types of lice?

Different types of lice can be distinguished from each other even without a microscope.

If the insect is light, almost white, then it is a clothes louse.The photo shows what a louse looks like on a uniform:

Accumulation of lice on the sleeve

If the insects are darkish and their abdomen is very short (looks wide) - these are pubic lice. Photos of them on a white background and in the hair are presented below:

Photos of pubic lice on the body

It is interesting

Pubic and head lice were very common in antiquity among people. The famous Roman emperor Sulla suffered from pubic lice. When describing the monstrous diseases with which he was sick of his depraved lifestyle, all his contemporaries certainly described thousands of parasites, which literally fell from him, and those who remained day and night from his body were taken off by slaves.

If the insect is dark in color and has a long belly, it belongs to typical head lice. In the photo below lice are clearly distinguishable in the hair:

The photo shows that the louse almost blends in with the hair

It is even easier to distinguish lice by the place on the body where they were found or caught. Lice in the hair on the head - only the head, pubic, in the groin and the anus, in the armpits and in exceptional cases - on the eyebrows - pubic. Parasites on clothes and hair on the chest are usually worn.

It is difficult to confuse lice with other parasites, as they look completely different. Bedbugs are much larger than lice and are not found on the body of a person during the day, and fleas are almost black and jump well.

But the main difference between all these parasites and ticks from lice is that they avoid the hairy parts of the body. Lice are in the hair and prefer to parasitize - their legs are ideally suited to be attached to the bundles of hair.

In the photo - lice on the hair:

Louse holds its hair tightly

And in the following photo below you can see how the lice look on the folds of clothes:

Hanging louse among the folds of clothes


Reproduction and life cycle of lice

Lice are insects with an incomplete cycle of transformation. This means that their larvae that came out of eggs are very similar to adult insects, differing only in size and inability to reproduce.

In the pictures of lice, you can distinguish between larger adults - sexually mature parasites - and larvae:

The picture shows the complete breeding cycle of the head louse.

And this picture shows the life cycle of the pubic louse (Pthiris Pubis)

On the photo are nymphs and adult lice.

On a note

Insects with an incomplete transformation cycle also include cockroaches, crickets, grasshoppers, and bugs. And to full-conversion insects include, for example, butterflies, beetles, mosquitoes, flies, the worm-like larvae of which look completely different than adult individuals.

Lice larvae called nymphs, and adults - imago.

Lice eggs are called nits. They are immobile and, in most cases, cannot be transferred from person to person, as particularly cautious citizens think about it.

A special feature of nits is that at the exit from the female oviduct, the egg is covered with a thick layer of sticky secretion and immediately comes into contact with the hair, to which it sticks. The secret quickly hardens, and the nit turns out to be so firmly attached to the hair that it is very difficult to tear it off - it is easier to pull the hair out.

Lice and nits coexist side by side, but usually nits are more visible, since adult insects are more likely to sit on the skin at the base of the hair, and nits are located directly on the hair.

In the photos below you can see more what the nits look like and lice:

Nit attached to the hair

The photo shows a louse when magnified: a well-marked belly full of blood.

Lice multiply very quickly. Each female lays about 10 eggs daily, from which a larva leaves in a few days.

Then the larva grows and molts three times, which takes about 14-16 days. After the last molt, the nymph turns into an adult louse and almost immediately mates with a member of the opposite sex. The cycle time from egg to egg is approximately 18-22 days, in ideal conditions - 16 days.

When the temperature decreases, lice and nits develop much more slowly, and their reproduction cycle can stretch for a month or more. The optimal temperature for breeding lice is 32-33 ° C.

The photos below show lice and nits on the hair:

Louse is not easy to notice on the hair, because it is most often located at the base of the hair

Few nits on hair

On a note

With a sufficient length of hair on the head, even in winter, the temperature near the skin on the head is almost not below 25 ° C, and therefore the lice on a person quietly multiply throughout the year.

How lice multiply is well demonstrated in the video below. It is good to see how adult lice, nits and larvae look at different stages of development:


About breeding lice, as well as some interesting details about their lives

Nits of different types of lice differ slightly from each other. In pubic, they look a little smaller, in ward clothes - larger and usually in the seams of clothing. Nits linen louses can be completely destroyed, for example, by boiling clothes.

Below is a photo of pubic lice and nits on the hair:

Pubic louse close up

Pubic louse nit on hair

And in the following photo - nits of a dressing form of louses:

A lot of wooded nits on clothes


Lifestyle and optimal conditions for the existence of lice

Knowing everything about lice, it is easy enough to develop and apply measures for their destruction.

Lice are constantly present on the body of a person or his clothes. It is enough to regularly change clothes and wash clothes at high temperatures, and body lice will die even if infected.Lice and nits dress form can normally multiply, only if a person for months does not change clothes and do not wash. This is typical for tramps and the homeless.

The presence of a large number of lice and nits is usually observed in those who rarely wash and rarely change clothes.

Pubic and head lice are highly dependent on hair length. On the hairless part of the body, they can not live at all. The best way to get rid of them is to shave the hair where the parasites were found. At the beginning of the last century, for the fight against lice, first of all, they shaved their heads, and therefore it was believed that the shaven man had suffered lice.

It is interesting

In recent years, scientists have seen a sharp reduction in the incidence of pubic lice worldwide. They associate this with the fashion of pubic shaving for both men and women. Lice cannot live on a hairless pubic, and even after sexual intercourse with an infected person, they are not fixed on a new victim.

Sometimes lice can infect completely unexpected places. For example, armpits and eyelashes. Knowing what lice and nits look like, it’s easy to identify them here, but removing parasites from these places requires some effort:

Pubic lice can also parasitize a person’s eyelashes

On a note

It is known that sometimes the pubic louse transmitted from mother to child can infect the baby’s eyebrows.This should be considered in the prevention of lice in a big family.

Below are some more photos with lice and nits on the eyelashes:

Nits of pubic lice on eyelashes are clearly visible.

This photo also clearly shows the pubic louse among the eyelashes and numerous nits.

Another photo of pubic lice and nits on human eyelashes

Lice feed several times a day: at a normal temperature, even a three-day hunger strike is fatal for them. At low temperatures, they can go hungry for up to a week.

Body lice are constantly moving from clothes to the human body. If the clothes even for a week are removed, most of the lice and their larvae die.

It looks like a louse during a bite

Body lice and nits

Lice die at temperatures below 0 ° C and above 45 ° C. With a gradual and not very low temperature, they can fall into a state of suspended animation and starve for several weeks.


Spreading lice between people

Lice are transmitted in most cases through direct physical contact of an infected person with a non-infected person. Today, preschool children who play and fight together are most often infected with lice.

Sometimes lice are transmitted with general use of headgear and hair care products. But such a transfer plays a much smaller role in the spread of lice.

Lice can sometimes be carried on headgear or hair care products.

In general, lice can be infected in any public placeswhere close contact between clothing and people is possible. For example, in public transport or at various public events.

It is interesting

Lice for a long time can be in the water, and therefore sometimes the infection occurs in pools and natural waters. But such cases are extremely rare and they are not particularly to be feared.

In this case, lice are afraid of sharp smells. To protect against them, it is enough to spray hair with cologne or eucalyptus-scented perfume before going to the public, and insects are less likely to move to hair when they come into contact with children and adults.

On a note

Do not assume that head lice can occur only in homeless and slovenly people. The danger of these insects is that they are easily transmitted to children and adults, regardless of the level of culture, and they can be infected at home or even in an elite kindergarten. And before they multiply in quantities in which they begin to cause unpleasant sensations, they can have time to spread throughout the entire team or family.

But really a companion of unsanitary conditions - it is a clothes louse.

But if an infection has happened, you need to remove lice without delay. On the correct fight against these parasites, read the other articles on our website in the section "How to get rid of lice."


Interesting video: how lice infects and their potential danger to humans


Details about human lice and how to deal with them


To the entry "How the lice look: get acquainted with the features of the appearance and biology of parasites" 99 comments
  1. Alina:

    It's horrible.

  2. Pedro:

    Hmm, I'm all itchy ...

  3. Denis:

    Well, damn it, they nits like horror.

  4. Kristina:

    Just awful

  5. Maria:

    I caught a louse from a friend, spent the night with her for three days. And we sit, talk, then she noticed that her daughter was crawling through the hair near her ear, grabbed it - it turned out to be a louse. I'm in panic! Let's inspect each other, it was a nightmare. My friend and her daughter had her head all covered with nits, and she noticed, but not much. Immediately ran for the funds.And so a few days, that only I did not do: shampoos, kerosene, some kind of liquid, taken in a pharmacy, combed. Oh, this is a nightmare, I will not wish anyone!

    • Maliifisenta:

      I was in school and in a lesson in mathematics I noticed that something was crawling. I went to the toilet and there was a louse, it seems that the female. I was terrified, but when I came home, I was treated with kerosene. It seems to me that this is the best tool. A little hell, but we washed away and everything was fine with me. There were similar situations when I brought lice from the camp (sanatorium), and each time we bought a lice cleaner. Do not try to use it, it will not help you. I will list the best folk remedies: kerosene, hydrogen peroxide and queen bees. That's all, lice will not. Let me tell you a secret: if you put a remedy on your head, these parasites must bite you when they die from this action.

  6. Lera:

    Yes, God forbid such a someone.

  7. Vika:

    Immediately for some reason, the whole body itches after seeing and reading. God forbid such happiness. It's just creepy.

  8. Anya:

    They are terrible in the pictures (I do not know which ones in life).

  9. Mirima:

    When I came from the street and my mother said to me: well, let me see my head. And I gave, and then my mother found larvae and lice.

    • Anonymous:

      Yes, these lice can not be cleaned, they are just awful, combing, combing, and where they come from - do not understand. More and others infect ...

  10. Anonymous:

    To avoid lice, it is necessary to wash and stay away from homeless people ((

    • Masik:

      By the way, lice like clean and wet (undressed) hair.

    • Maria:

      We live in Finland, my daughter's head is 6-7 times a week, but from the kindergarten the larvae-eggs have picked up. I panic. But they say that the pharmacy is a very good tool, I will treat it to myself and the son. Well at least her husband is bald.

  11. Marcelin:

    God, how do people get rid of them? I can not imagine…

    • Vitalina:

      We used the Para Plus tool, a very good tool, but expensive, in the region of 400-500 rubles.

  12. Dana:

    I was also lousy. Infected by neighbors - spent the night at their place. I barely got rid of them!

  13. Olya:

    That's horrible.Already how many funds have not tried - nothing helps! What a nightmare. Just as they brought. It is necessary to choose nits, and so head lice will appear and appear ...

  14. Hope:

    I had them three times, and I was 11. Once in the kindergarten, 2 times 6 years later, just before graduation from the beginning, 3 times came from a friend, my head began to itch. Mom looked - again they.

  15. Katerina:

    It's terrible ... Recently, I noticed that it is more and more difficult to withdraw them.

  16. Anonymous:

    It's terrible, all itchy, and the paint didn't help (

  17. Andes:

    Yes, you do not hesitate, but rather read the article and do not look at the pictures. Then understand how to quickly get rid of.

  18. Anonymous:

    It is better not to catch such a miracle!

  19. Vshivogon:

    Infected in the pool - itched, but pulled out.

  20. Lera:

    In the bus caught lice. Mother-in-law gave shampoo, and then combed and chose all the nits. Thank her so much.

  21. Victoria:

    Oh, this is very terrible, I had them, now I do prevention every week!

  22. Anna:

    I had them three times ... Couple plus displays the first time.

  23. Nastyushechka:

    And you know how to comb them for a long time

  24. Oksana:

    And I was in the hospital with the child lying there and caught. The son, it seems, does not. Now I washed the shampoo with a special one, I hope, they will die. A nightmare. Upset to tears.

  25. Nastya:

    I can't see it

  26. Julia:

    I had lice, from one girl I got infected. Bought a solution of Full Marx, comes with a comb for combing lice, it costs 300 rubles. Mental solution. Fu, these lice are so horrible, I smeared it with this solution, sat for 15 minutes, combed them all out and then 10 times wash off the head with shampoo without balm. This solution FIG wash away.

  27. Knowing:

    Comrades, buy a tincture of hellebore in a veterinary pharmacy, spread your head gently soaked with this tincture with cotton (not abundantly, you can burn your head) and put the bag on for 15-20 minutes. Then the usual shampoo, well foaming it. Wash off, along with the foam will see dots lice sdohshih. It is advisable to repeat the procedure after a few days in order to kill the hatched lice again.

  28. Anonymous:

    Horror these lice, God forbid them. For prevention, what to do?

  29. Vlad:

    And I sprinkled them with a kerosene bottle, and in three days they all got out!

  30. Nastya:

    NDA But I have a question. Where did these nits come from ?!

  31. Anyutochka:

    Oh, what they are cute, such cool bugs =)

  32. Anya:

    As I looked, my scabies all over my body began!

  33. Ilya:

    You just cut it. That's exactly what I did.

  34. Nastya:

    Horror, we have one girl in the class, so she has lice, and I sit in front of her. What should be done for prevention? I feel like getting infected.

    • Medel:

      Just ask your teacher to transplant you. Tell her that your backpack is kicking, that’s the whole task.

  35. Lucy:

    I had lice in a pioneer camp, the counselors cut their hair almost bald, which were waist-high and curly. After something they have soaped their heads. After that, 25 years have passed, and the hair grows straight, no more curls. Lice are evil!

  36. Anonymous:

    Byaka, it seemed to me that I had lice, and I wanted to see what they looked like. As a result, I have no lice.

  37. Masha:

    Hello to all. I have them, how to get rid of them?

    • Anastasia:

      Maria, do not worry, they should be removed with a special shampoo.

  38. Sergei:

    Damn, how terrible

  39. Scoop citizen:

    Full Kopec, sat in a taxi and picked up the passengers.

  40. Kolya:

    No need to cut your hair, because of this infection you need to ask the pharmacy anything against lice.

    • Lady:

      The pharmacy will not help. This is luring and making money from trouble. Color up.

  41. Anonymous:

    My child, when he went to the garden, had lashes on his eyelashes, not in his head. My poor child that he had to endure. It seems, I will remove, I will pull out everything, in a few days everything again. Hardly got rid of.

    • Anya:

      Do not believe it, my child also picked up lice in the kindergarten, and for 2 months now I can’t get rid of them.That only I have not tried: Paraplus, and kerosene, and Fulmarks - nothing takes them, beasts.

  42. Anastasia:

    Yes, it's terrible, right up to the hell out. I also had lice and some gray. Does anyone know what it is? I was so scared when mom said I had lice. It seems to me that this is in our school.

  43. Sofia:

    I am 12 and I have lice at the moment 1 time. This is very disgusting, and my head is terribly itchy.

  44. Agatha and Yana:

    My sister and I decided to look at how the lice look, and saw such a horror, just plain general debilism. In general, horror and disgusting.

  45. Rita:

    I also had lice. I got rid of them hair dye, there is just a lot of hydrogen peroxide, and the peroxide kills lice and nits, then we combed them out.

    • Anonymous:

      This is complete nonsense, you just painted over them. Hair dye does not remove these parasites ... It's easier to get a haircut. And the best method is to pour kerosene over your head and light a match. You will be sure that they will not appear again. At home is prohibited.

  46. Valya:

    I had lice three times and all three times in 12 years. This complete horror was infected in the camp in the summer.And I give advice: stay away from human fleas. They multiply on the walls, in the baseboards in the corners of the room. They also multiply rapidly. If you gave friends, friends, relatives, lashes, etc. Put in some bowl or something similar and boil in boiling water. And also, they also look like little brown insects. And remember, animals could not bring them!

    • Anonymous:

      Animals can not bring lice, but fleas are easy. A human flea can easily sit on both an animal and a human.

  47. Tanya:

    God, what an abomination these lice ...

  48. Dunno:

    Found in my louse, I can not determine what it is.

  49. Anastasia:

    They look so ugly.

  50. Anonymous:

    They say who had lice, they will be rich - so there is a chance that we will all be millionaires!

  51. Lyova:

    Kranta. Such a trifle, but so much trouble.

  52. Sveta:

    She found some two: brown, with a long body, small ones. Can they be lice?

    • Medel:

      Yes they can. Imagine this: you are at school, and you have lice in your hair running around. And they can also fall on a notebook ...

  53. Makhachka:

    It seems to me that I have lice, help me, I'm afraid of my mother saying that she checked my head, I don't know why. And I want to quietly get rid of them. If I have lice, then I think this is my prideroshnaya classmate, she had lice for a whole year, she went to school, and no one knew about it. Then my friends told me that they saw lice from her. And all the girls so rumors spread to some. Then I asked our class teacher to tell her to come and check everyone's head. No one was found. And then her turn, silence in the classroom, the nurse looks at her head, and suddenly she tells our teacher quietly, saying, go here and whisper something to her. In short, we all got the idea why. Then they told her not to go to school for a month and to clean her head. Then she did not come a month. Everyone, in short, believed that she was cured. Then she told everyone that she had already recovered.And then like a bang - one girl again noticed something on her head. In general, this creature in my opinion has deceived us. I was very worried if I had lice (Allah forbid). I hated that thing so much. After the school year was over, my girlfriend and I went for ice cream after school, and I wait in line for this, twisting my hair. I saw something in my hair, I had a panic, it's good that no one saw it. I quickly took it and threw it away. I almost cried. Then, when my friends and I were going home after this, I would move away from them (so as not to “infect”), because I thought that I had lice. Thank God, until I noticed, after 3 months. But today I sit like this, I look - something fell from my head. I think it was a chill, but I still did not understand what it was. Quickly took and killed it. Lord, even if it was not louse. I’ll ask my mom to look at my head, and if mom finds something on my head, I’ll arrange a “sweet life” for this girlfriend. This idiot!

    Sincerely yours, Makhina.

  54. Buttercup:

    God forbid to catch such a dirty trick ...

  55. Dasha:

    This is a nightmare, I never want these creatures.

  56. Moore moore:

    And why are you all so panicking? Of course, this is very unpleasant, but no more. Much worse - hepatitis, syphilis, AIDS, etc. And these little friends were taken out, and then they forgot about them!

  57. Medel:

    Yes, these lice are terrible, just terrible creatures. They bite so much that it’s as if a hundred needles are stuck in the head. It's just awful. Yes, I just die soon because of them, as they bore me, these tarakashki.

  58. Dasha:

    Good lord I wash every day, and my head every 2 days. What the hell are I got? My head and neck are torn apart. I picked up from school somewhere, and they have evolved? Only 22 days later (today) did we find that I had lice ((Tin.

    • Anonymous:

      Yes, guys, you hit! )) As we are. We are fighting! All the "fascists" must be destroyed))

  59. Elida:

    Horror)) Just horror, damn, they are so small ...

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