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Lice: tiny, but with a lot of personality

Lice: tiny, but with a lot of personality


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Vampires, long-distance runners, divers, foodies, chameleons, gourmets, gluttons and very sexually active, among other things. So are lice, tiny parasites that live in the hair and that prefer children to feed, develop and procreate. Are you curious? Do you want to know why they are like this? It is a story that was born almost 3,000 years ago.

In this way I began to tell my son the story of lice with the intention of keeping him entertained, while I had to wait patiently for him to examine his entire head, frog in hand, looking precisely for lice. And it is that now with the return to school all mothers have to return to the cumbersome task of inspecting, at least every two days, the children's hair in search of possible lice, which each year, take advantage of the good temperature conditions and autumn humidity to multiply.

And it is that if there is something that lice are characterized by, it is by possessing various personality traits, which have led to their survival and coexistence with the human species for 3,000 years. As parasites they need us because they feed on us. They are like vampires, they feed on human blood that they get by sucking it once they have pierced the scalp with their head, which has short antennae and very specialized mouthparts, which allow the louse to carry out piercing actions and suction of the blood of its host.

In addition to "microscopic vampires", lice are great gourmet and we all do not like us equally. They prefer us to some more than others according to the composition of our blood, so if you are generally easy prey for mosquitoes, it is possible that you are also easy for lice. However, it seems that certain foods or medications, which alter the smell or taste of blood, can cause rejection. Thus, for example, eating garlic can help prevent infestation, although this has not been conclusively proven.

And apart from foodies, they are gluttons. They eat 2 to 4 times a day, that is, they can have breakfast, lunch, lunch and dinner at our expense, and each of their meals lasts approximately 30 minutes. Away from their host, lice cannot survive more than 48 hours as they can starve or dehydrate.

Environmental conditions are also very important to them. They are very gourmet and that is why they adore autumn and spring, that is to say, good weather, not too hot, not too cold because in extreme conditions they cannot survive and their reproduction cycle is paralyzed. To be well, lice need a temperature that is between 28 and 32 degrees Celsius with 70 to 80 percent humidity. The optimum temperature for the rapid growth of lice is around 28ºC. They cannot withstand temperatures above 45ºC and growth slows down below 27ºC. When it is very cold for them, that is, below 12 ºC, growth and egg laying stop. In general, they are quite sensitive to temperature, and when children have a fever, the lice infestation usually subsides because they choose to abandon it.

And not only that, Did you know that tiny lice are great athletes too? Despite the fact that an adult louse only measures between 2 and 4 millimeters, the females are larger, they are able to travel long distances for them. Contrary to what it may seem, lice do not jump or fly, but they move very quickly. Its average speed reaches 23 centimeters per minute, under normal conditions. They walk through the hair clinging firmly to it with 3 pairs of short legs.

But what most caught my son's attention is his skill as divers. Lice breathe through holes that can close up and become impermeable to water. They have the ability to hold in apnea for about five minutes. These openings also have an excretory function. For this reason, lice survive in the water and can be spread during swimming in a pool.

And if it was not enough they are also chameleonic and can change color to hide better based on your host's hair color. Although its color is white in origin, once the louse is full of blood, it can change color and become gray, brown or black, depending on whether it is living in a blonde, a brown or a tan.

To ensure their survival for 3,000 years, it is normal for them to be very sexually active and reproduce very quickly. The nits or eggs of the louse hatch after a week, giving rise to the nymphs, with a grayish-yellow color, which after 7 days acquire adult size. Females lay 8 eggs a day and typically lay 250 to 300 eggs during their life cycle. My son has dreamed of lice. Do you think that if you tell this story to your son, he will too? Leave us your comment.

Marisol New. Editor of our site

You can read more articles similar to Lice: tiny, but with a lot of personality, in the category of Lice and nits on site.


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