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Head Lice

head-lice-bug-book

Color

Adults are tan to grayish. Eggs, called nits, are dark-colored during development, but egg cases are white after hatching.

Characteristics

Wingless, parasitic insects with six legs used to grasp hair. They are exquisitely adapted to the living conditions on your hair and scalp. They live out all stages of their life on their host. They can crawl pretty quickly, but are lousy at hopping, flying or jumping.

Where Found

These insects are relics from prehistoric mummies. And they should have stayed there. Now they occur all over the world.

Habitat

Head lice are great with kids. Unfortunately. Well, they'll sure keep them busy scratching. Children are most vulnerable to lice, thanks to their questionable hygienic habits of sharing just about everything – hats, combs, brushes, sleeping bags, stuffed animals and clothes. Head lice spend their whole lives roaming around the hairy heads of all ages.

Food

Like tiny vampires, they feed on human blood.

Biology

Egghead – yes, they lay their eggs on your head. All of them. Usually eggs are attached with a glue-like substance where the hair meets the scalp. Females produce about 3-5 eggs during 24 hours and live only 7-10 days. Most eggs are laid at night, and hatch within 7-8 days. A newly-hatched louse must have a blood meal within minutes of birth to survive. Developing lice (nymphs) mature in 7-10 days, and adult females start laying eggs after an additional day. Total lifespan is about 25 days. As people have constant body temperatures, females reproduce continuously throughout the year.

Damage

You may wonder if lice come equipped with itching powder, 'cause that's all you can seem to do. They can also deprive you of a good night's rest, though they don't penetrate your skin. They are known to transmit infectious agents between people. Saliva and feces may cause irritation and sensitivity to bites. Excess scratching increases the chance of secondary infection. You may try to get rid of the lice by using harmful or toxic substances, and this can be the greatest harm.

Invasion

Transferred between humans from shared items, such as hats, combs, pillows, brushes, furry toys, etc. They may also remain on bedding or upholstered furniture for a short time and can easily re-infest.

Good Riddance

Don't let lice make a monkey out of you! In the case of intense itching, thoroughly inspect head and neck. Alert others that head lice have been detected and consult a physician to prescribe effective treatment. Use the specialized comb usually included with the medication to remove nits (egg sacs) from head. Remove lice and nits from the environment by vacuuming, washing, and drying on high-heat cycle. You can also freeze objects, such as hats, that you suspect of being infested. Sometimes, the physician may recommend treatment for other family members due to the possibility of spreading within the family. Children can pick lice up from school. Check head daily and remove nits until infestation is gone. Then, inspect weekly to detect re-infestation. Pesticides are not necessary, as this insect does not live long once off its host.