The few head lice facts most of us know of is that these tiny creatures have the ability to completely take over an entire household in just a few weeks time, and once this happens, they are incredibly difficult to remove, although certainly not impossible.
The head louse, or Pediculus humanis capitis, is a parasite that only feeds on humans, which means you won’t have to worry about any of the family pets getting or transmitting lice. Lice will feed on human blood from the scalp several times each day and will stay close by in order to maintain their body temperature.
Other head lice facts you should know that will help to control or avoid an infestation are its life cycle, which is broken down into three stages; egg or nit, nymph, and adult. Lice nits are incredibly difficult to see and very small averaging a mere 0.8 mm by 0.3 mm. Nits are most usually a yellowish color and are oval shaped. You will find them located near the base of the hair shafts nearest the scalp.
Within about a week, the nits will hatch and release what is known as the nymph or young adult. After hatching, the nit’s shell will remain attached to the hair and become more noticeable in color. The nymph will go through three stages of molting before maturing into adult head lice. This process also takes about a week on average to complete.
The adult louse, slightly larger than the nymph or about the size of a sesame seed, will have a total of six legs, each of which with their own set of claws for grabbing onto the hairs and for crawling over the scalp. Lice do not have wings and cannot hop. They are most often transmitted from one person to the next by head-to-head contact or through sharing clothing, hats, combs, brushes, or hair accessories.
Some other fascinating head lice facts related to their interesting life cycle include the female’s amazing ability to lay as many as eight nits each day. The female adult louse will usually be a bit larger than her male counterpart and adult lice are able to live for as long as 30 days while on their human host. Without access to blood from the host, most lice will die with a day or two with the hardiest of the bunch possibly surviving for as long as three days.
Other head lice facts parents should be familiar with include the important knowledge of how to easily identify the common louse as well as how to deal with an infestation both safely and effectively. Do keep in mind that head lice are no indicator of poor hygiene as they actually prefer clean hair since it is easier to grasp and to crawl through. And, although anyone can get head lice, they mostly affect younger children and females more often than males and definitely prefer Caucasian hair as opposed to African American hair due to its different shape.