Common Name: Lice – Body Louse
Latin Name: Pediculus humanus
Common Family Name: Sucking Lice
Latin Family Name: Pediculus humanus
Other Names: Cooties, gray-backs, blue-bellies (two references from the Civil War)
Hydrex Treatment for Body Louse
Characteristics Important in Control:Generally speaking, body lice are a concern for a physician, who can prescribe an insecticidal shampoo for the infested person. However, the person should also thoroughly launder or dry clean all clothing that may have the eggs on it, lauder bed coverings and other material that they have been in contact with while infested with the lice. Since the eggs can be on clothing in closets, and the lice may survive for up to a week off the host, there may be a need for an application of insecticide to the premises.
Hydrex cannot assist in treatment of this insect. Please contact your physician.
Origin: Not known for certain, but this louse has been associated with humans throughout our history.
Biology: Head lice are human parasites only, and they are transmitted from one host to another by sharing clothing or close personal contact. These lice lay their eggs on the clothing, and the lice themselves generally stay on the clothing except for periods when they feed on blood. They are the vector of human Epidemic Typhus, known to have killed untold millions of people over the centuries. The constant feeding on the skin also causes a thickening and reddening of the skin called “Vagabond’s Disease”. These lice can survive off the human host for up to one week, but usually die within 2 to 3 days without food. They usually occupy body hairs and the clothing around the torso, rather than the head. Eggs hatch in about one week and growth to the adult stage takes about 2 weeks.
Identification: Head and body lice cannot be distinguished by their appearance alone, but by the body area they infest and the presence of eggs on hair or clothing. Body louse eggs are tiny, white, and glued to the clothing. The lice are only 2 to 3 mm long and are dirty-white to grayish in color. They have small heads and large, oval abdomens. Their 6 legs are long and tipped with sharp spine-like claws.