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How Head Lice live
How do head lice eat?
|How do head lice eat?
|When the head louse needs food, it moves
around very close to the skin and checks it out until
it finds a suitable vein. The louse then pierces the
skin with its mouth parts and adds saliva to the wound,
to prevent the blood from clotting while the louse
eats. The blood is ingested via two small pumps in
the head of the louse. As the louse is partly transparent,
you can actually see a thin thread of blood running
from its mouth as it is pumped through the head and
on into the intestine.
Unlike body lice, head lice need food relatively often,
thus they never leave their hosts. How often they
need blood is not fully known. We do know, however,
that head lice which feed only four times in 24 hours
will die after a few days. Therefore, the lice probably
have to eat at least six times in 24 hours in order
Body lice suck blood in the same way as head lice.
In this video of blood-sucking body lice you can easily
see that the blood is being pumped through the heads
of the lice. (Department of Medical Entomology, National
Institute of Infectious Diseases, Japan)