Lice – Pest Profile
Scientific Name: Pediculus humanus capitis
Common Name: Louse (singular), Lice (plural), head lice
Appearance: Head lice are small, wingless parasitic insects that live on the scalp of human hosts. Adult lice are 2-3mm in length, and are flat when viewed from the side. Lice are typically a grey color, until after they have fed. After feeding on human blood, the lice will turn a reddish color.
Region & Habitat: With the exception of extreme climates, head lice are found everywhere on earth. They live exclusively on human hosts, although they can survive on other surfaces such as pillow cases or hairbrushes for a short time. This contributes greatly to the spread of head lice from person to person.
Behavior: Head lice are parasites which feed on human blood from the scalp approximately 4 to 5 times per day. Lice typically reach adulthood in 8-9 days, and then begin mating frequently with the females laying eggs. This can make getting rid of head lice difficult, as even if all of the live insects are eliminated, eggs that have already been laid can still hatch.
Why They Are Pests: Head lice do not spread diseases, and are therefore merely nuisance pests. At any given time, there are somewhere around 6-12 million people infected with head lice.