For a relatively harmless parasite that can’t survive off its human host very long, the head louse has garnered plenty of unwarranted fear and loathing.
Recent reports of lice in the U.S. carrying pesticide-resistant genes have now elevated this lowly bug to super-villain status.
But ‘Super Lice’? Really?
Yes, the pesticides in popular over-the-counter drugs in the U.S. don’t work very well any more. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other methods of killing these critters.
Before delving into these other methods, however, let’s debunk a few other lice myths:
Myth No. 1: Lice can jump and fly.
Lice crawl. Period. They move from one head to another by grabbing onto a passing hair with one of their six claws. In order for that to happen, two heads have to be close enough for hair to touch. So if you don’t touch heads with with an infested person, the chances of you getting lice are extremely low.
Myth No. 2: Only kids get lice.
Based on treatments at Lice Clinics of America, just half of head-lice infestations happen to school-age kids. The other half happen to parents (usually the moms) and older siblings. Teenagers and college students who spend a lot of time putting their heads together for selfies and other activities are also not immune.
Myth No. 3: Lice spread disease.
They don’t. There are three types of lice that feed off humans, and only the body louse can transmit disease (which can kill you).
Myth No. 4: Lice can infest a house.
Research shows that most head lice, which need to feed on human blood every three to four hours, die within 15 hours off their host. If a louse accidentally comes off a head, it is highly unlikely that it will be able to make it back onto a head before dehydrating and dying.