Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Insect/Phthiraptera

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Phthiraptera (Lice)

Order: Phthiraptera

Description: As lice spend their whole life on the host they have developed adaptations which enable them to maintain close contact with the host. These adaptations are reflected in their size (0.5–8 mm), stout legs, and claws which are adapted to cling tightly to hair, fur and feathers, and that they are wingless and flattened.

Lice feed on skin (epidermal) debris, feather parts, sebaceous secretions and blood. A louse's color varies from pale beige to dark grey; however, if feeding on blood, it may become considerably darker.

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. Living lice eggs tend to be pale white. Dead lice eggs are orangeish.


Lice image01.jpg