Lice (Phthiraptera)

Greek "phthir" (lice) + "aptera" (no wings)

Lice do not have wings, they have short antennae, and a broad or conical head. They have small eyes, or no eyes at all, and many have claws. All lice are parasites of birds or mammals, and are often found only on a single species. Some types of lice transmit disease such as typhus. Lice are separated into two groups, those that bite, and those that suck. They may feed on blood, dead skin cells, or feathers. Since they cannot fly, they can only spread to a new host that is close by. They do not survive for long if they become separated from their host. Their eggs are called "nits" and they are glued to the hosts' hair.

Quick ID

  • No wings, often no eyes
  • Found on birds & mammals
  • Nits are glued to hair

More information about Lice

University of California, Berkeley    Berkeley Natural History Museums
Copyright © 1995-2010 UC Regents. All Rights Reserved.
Last updated: Jan 2, 2017