A head louse up-close

Lice are bloodsucking parasites most common among birds and mammals, including humans. Of the 3,000 different species worldwide belonging to Order Phthiraptera, 200 are in Australia. The Anopluran lice, one of the four distinct suborders, include the head, body and crab louse.

Louse infestation of humans is a big problem in some countries. That is why Australia is lucky enough to have minimal lice infestations. The most common lice in the country, however, are the head louse and crab louse.

Identifying Characteristics

A full-grown louse has a flattened body shape and is usually 1.5-3.5mm long without wings. It has antennae which are typically short. If it has eyes, they are most often compound. Adult lice also usually possess visible claws which help their movement among hair. Developing nymphs bear a resemblance to the adults.

Life Stages

Like other insects, lice go through metamorphosis gradually. The eggs, sometimes called nits, cling to the hair of the host or, in the case of the body louse, to clothing seams close to the body. They hatch in 5-10 days, and nymphs, before reaching maturity, usually pass through three instars.

An adult louse can live up to a month. In that span of time, a female may lay up to 200 eggs. Lice separated from their host don’t last very long.

Habitat & Sustenance

Lice spend their entire life on their host, feeding on their blood, skin or feather on and off throughout the day or night. Where they occupy on the host’s body depends on their particular species. Head louse, for example, is mostly associated with the hair of the head. The crab louse, on the other hand, usually infests the pubic region.

Sensitive to temperature, lice tend to leave a dying or lifeless host to look for another. Apart from temperature, smell may also play a vital role when it comes to detecting hosts.

Detrimental Effects to Humans and Animals

Breaking the skin and injecting saliva consist the feeding activities of lice, resulting in irritation, scratching and, in severe cases, local infection of the bite wounds on the host.

The body louse is mostly responsible for transmission of diseases such as epidemic typhus, trench and relapsing fevers. Thankfully, the country has been free from epidemic typhus since early settlement times. Infestations happen to animals as well. Cattle, dogs, hogs and horses are some of the animals lice like as hosts the most.

Eradication/Treatment/Control Mechanisms

Whilst synthetic insecticides have helped the world control louse infestation, a much higher standard of personal hygiene has made the human body less desirable to lice over the years. To limit the spread, persons who have been in close contact with an infested person ought to be checked right away.

Avoidance of contact with louse-infected persons and animals, frequent bathing, washing and changing of bedding, clothes and underwear keep lice at bay. Specially designed fine-toothed combs can partially control head lice by physical removal as well.

When you feel like the infestation is becoming out of control, call Bob Gunn Termite Solutions right away. We offer safe and effective lice treatments at reasonable rates. Contact us today in Brisbane to learn more.