The Facts of Lice

Where do lice come from?

Head lice have been documented going back 5 thousand years, but scientists believe that they have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. More recently, Queen Cleopatra, had her own solid gold lice comb.

What are head lice?

Head lice, or pediculus humanus capitis, are tiny parasitic insects that live on human heads and feed on human blood. They require human blood in order to survive. When head lice live long enough on a person’s scalp to multiply, it is referred to as an infestation. Another name for a head lice infestation is Pediculosis.

What do head lice look like?

Lice are tiny, smaller than a grain of rice. An adult louse can be grey, tan, white, or reddish brown in color. A younger nymph louse is even smaller, about the size of a sesame seed, and is transparent except for a dark center.

Lice have six equally sized legs, but no wings. Because they have no wings, head lice can’t fly. Their equally sized legs (no enlarged hind legs, like crickets) make it impossible for them to jump. Instead, a louse’s legs have a “hook” on the end that make them expert climbers of a hair shaft.

What are nits?

Nits are head lice eggs. They take 6-8 days to hatch, but the hollow nit ‘shell’ can remain firmly glued to the hair shaft long after its louse has left the building!

What do nits look like?

Nits are the size of, or even smaller than, a poppy seed. They are oval and usually white or yellowish white in color. They change color as the louse develops inside. Nits are typically found at the nape of the neck and behind the ears, firmly attached to a hair shaft a quarter inch or less from the scalp.

How many nits can lice lay?

An adult female louse can lay 3-10 eggs per day, and will be able to do so for approximately 10-15 days, yikes! That’s around 150 eggs in her life span, remember that those 150 eggs will become adults and lay eggs.