usa | world | animals | vocabulary | health | science | math | history

Lice (singular: louse) (order: Phthiraptera) are an order of over 3,000 species of wingless parasitic insects. They are obligate ectoparasites of every mammalian and avian order, with the notable exception of Monotremata (the duck-billed platypus and the echidna or spiny anteater) and Chiroptera (bats).


This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to the United States, Canada, the European Union and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.A New Hairdo: A louse egg is commonly called a nit. Lice attach their eggs to their host's hair with specialized saliva which results in a bond that is very difficult to separate without specialized products. A nit comb is a comb with very fine close teeth that is used to scrape nits off the hair.

Lice Specialization: Lice are highly specialized based on the host species and many species specifically only feed on certain areas of their host's body. As lice spend their whole life on the host they have developed adaptations which enable them to maintain a close contact with the host. These adaptations are reflected in their size (0.5 mm to 8 mm), stout legs, and claws which are adapted to cling tightly to hair, fur and feathers, wingless and dorsoventrally flattened. Lice feed on skin (epidermal) debris, feather parts, sebaceous secretions and blood. A louse's color varies from pale beige to dark gray; however, if feeding on blood, it may become considerably darker.

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License


 Kingdom: Animalia

 Phylum: Arthropoda

 Subphylum: Hexapoda

 Class: Insecta

 Subclass: Pterygota

 Infraclass: Neoptera

 Order: Phthiraptera