human louse


human louse

insect
also called  body louse 
 a common species of sucking louse in the family Pediculidae (suborder Anoplura, order Phthiraptera; see sucking louse) that is found wherever human beings live, feeds on blood, and can be an important carrier of epidemic typhus and other louse-borne human diseases such as trench fever and relapsing fever. There are two subspecies, Pediculus humanus capitis, the head louse, and P. humanus humanus, the body louse, or cootie.

      Smaller and tougher than the body louse, the head louse attaches itself to the hair or scalp by means of claws on its legs. Young lice are sometimes called red backs because of their blood-red colour after feeding. They are called black backs, or gray backs, after digestion has taken place. Head lice pass from host to host by direct contact. The easiest way to get rid of them is to keep the hair and scalp clean and to use a fine-tooth comb frequently. In earlier times, when hygiene was not commonly practiced, heads were shaved and wigs (wig) worn in an effort to get rid of head lice.

      The body louse is larger than the head louse and ranges in colour from white to brown. It lives in the seams of clothes but is not dependent upon clothing. The female lays her eggs, which hatch in about a week, in underclothes. The body louse is transferred by direct contact. It is sensitive to heat and cannot survive hot temperatures; therefore, ordinary laundry procedures will kill it.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • louse — n. /lows/; v. /lows, lowz/, n., pl. lice /luys/ for 1 3, louses for 4, v., loused, lousing. n. 1. any small, wingless insect of the order Anoplura (sucking louse), parasitic on humans and other mammals and having mouthparts adapted for sucking,… …   Universalium

  • louse, human — Any of three types of sucking louse that infest humans. The body louse (mainly Pediculus humanus humanus, also called human louse or cootie) and head louse (P. h. capitis) are spread by person to person contact and through shared clothing,… …   Universalium

  • louse — /laʊs / (say lows) noun (plural lice /laɪs / (say luys) for defs 1 and 2, louses for def. 3) 1. any of the small, wingless, blood sucking insects of the order Phthiraptera, including several species associated with humans, as the human louse,… …   Australian English dictionary

  • louse — [lous; ] for v., also [ louz] n. pl. lice and, for LOUSE 4, louses [ME lous < OE lus (pl. lys), akin to Ger laus < IE * lūs > Welsh lleuen, Bret laouen] 1. a) any of an order (Anoplura) of small, flat, wingless insects with sucking… …   English World dictionary

  • louse — (n.) parasitic insect infecting human hair and skin, O.E. lus, from P.Gmc. *lus (Cf. O.N. lus, M.Du. luus, Du. luis, O.H.G. lus, Ger. Laus), from PIE *lus louse (Cf. Welsh lleuen louse ). Slang meaning obnoxious person is from 1630s. The plural …   Etymology dictionary

  • louse — ► NOUN 1) (pl. lice) a small wingless parasitic insect which infests human skin and hair. 2) (pl. lice) a related insect which lives on the skin of mammals or birds. 3) (pl. louses) informal a contemptible person. ► VERB (louse u …   English terms dictionary

  • Louse — Lice redirects here. For the infection, see Pediculosis. For the district of Diyarbakır Province in Turkey, see Lice, Turkey. For other uses, see Louse (disambiguation). Phthiraptera …   Wikipedia

  • louse —    The louse is a parasitic insect which infests human hair and skin. The word has been applied to human beings who are considered to be obnoxious since at least the seventeenth century. ‘You unfaithful louse’ is used as an insult in The Half… …   A dictionary of epithets and terms of address

  • louse — noun 1》 (plural lice) a small wingless parasitic insect which infests human skin and hair. [Pediculus humanus (see body louse, head louse).]     ↘a related insect which lives on the skin of mammals or birds. [Orders Anoplura (sucking lice) and… …   English new terms dictionary

  • human — humanlike, adj. humanness, n. /hyooh meuhn/ or, often, /yooh /, adj. 1. of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or having the nature of people: human frailty. 2. consisting of people: the human race. 3. of or pertaining to the social aspect of… …   Universalium


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