Lice: What You Should Know

Lice are small creatures that belong to insects. They can be roughly divided into plant lice and animal lice. A special group within the animal lice is the human lice.

Lice are parasites like fleas. So you live off a host. It can be a plant, animal, or human. They get their food from him without asking him. Often this is even very annoying or harmful for the host.

Lice cannot move or jump as fast as fleas. They therefore usually remain on the host on which they have once established themselves. However, if they do change hosts, they can also carry diseases with them.

How do plant lice live?

There are around 3,000 species of plant lice in Europe and four times more in the rest of the world. They choose a host plant and stick their proboscis into it. They suck the sap of plants and feed on it. As a result, the plants grow worse or even die.

The enemies of plant lice are ladybugs, lacewings, and other insects. They eat a lot of lice and are therefore very popular with gardeners. Other gardeners fight plant lice with soft soap, nettle tea, or other natural or chemical means.

Most plant lice reproduce very quickly, such as aphids. They can infest an entire garden in a short time. They owe this to a special feature: they can reproduce unisexually, i.e. without first having to look for a partner. This allows them to lay a large number of eggs, which develop on their own.

How do animal lice and human lice live?

There are only around 3,500 species of animal and human lice in the world, around 650 of them in Europe. They can stab, bite, and suck with their mouthparts. They live on birds or mammals, including humans. They often suck blood from animals, but they can also feed on scraps of skin.

Human lice form a special group within animal lice. There are different types of them, such as clothes lice and head lice.

Clothes lice only tolerate human blood. They do not dwell on people’s heads, but in the hair of their bodies or in their clothes. They are dangerous because they can transmit diseases. The best way to protect yourself from them is to practice good hygiene. So you should keep yourself and your clothes as clean as possible and wash them regularly.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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