About the Body Louse

Excerpts from Steve Tvedten's book "The Best Control"
(Used here with permission.)

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Body Lice
Pediculus humanis var corporis

Appearance - The body louse is very similar to the head louse; the body louse is usually 10% - 20% larger, has thinner antennae, not as deep abdominal indentations, with better developed abdominal muscles than the head louse.

Life Cycle

Egg - This again is generally similar to that of the head louse. The eggs are glued to fibers of clothing and are sometimes found stuck to body hairs. Most eggs are usually found in the seams of clothes which come in contact with the skin where the adults and the nymphal stages are to be found. The body louse lays about twice as many eggs as the head louse and the nits can remain dormant for a period up to 30 days.

Nymphs - Body louse nymphs spend the greater part of their time in the clothing, and feeding on the host only takes place when the host is resting or sleeping. All stages of the body louse congregate together, being attracted to each other by smell, e.g., the odor of the excrement. Body lice crawl about the clothing, generally keeping close to the host's body, although in heavy infestations they may be seen crawling outside on the outer garments.

Length of life cycle - The body louse adults live about twice as long as head lice, are more resistant to starvation and exhibit less mortality during development.

Body lice females may deposit 200 or more eggs, usually attaching them to clothing fibers. The development period is similar to that of head lice, but they may remain dormant for up to 30 days. The life history of crab lice is also similar except that the young require 2 to 2-1/2 weeks to mature and the adults normally live about a month.

Human lice usually cannot survive for long when separated from their host. Head and body lice leave the host or clothing voluntarily only when the host has died for becomes hot with fever or has gone into a sauna, or when they try to avoid strong light or to transfer to another host in close personal (sexual) contact. Human lice are completely dependent upon human blood for sustenance. Lice feed frequently, usually every 3 to 6 hours, and can not usually survive more than 48 hours away from the human body. Their bites cause bad itching and red spots about the size of a mosquito bite - but remember it may take as long as 2 - 3 weeks (or even more) for some people to experience the intense itching associated with an infestation of pediculosis.

(Web Mistress Note:  A little license was taken with title and some emphasis.  However, the content is correct as it appears in "The Best Control)