Lice have been around a long time and probably are one of the first “pests” for which the pest control industry was created. History has documented the practice of lice control over 4000 years ago. Though easy to kill, lice are stubborn and persistent. Like bedbugs and fleas, they live on blood and other bodily fluids which mammals produce. Unlike bedbugs and fleas lice need to spend their time on their host. This makes them all the more offensive; the thought of a louse occupying our children’s head is intolerable.
There are many old wives tales about this insect as well as too many products to choose from when confronted with the task of lice control. This article will dispell some of those myths and offer a practical program for any one who needs to get a lice problem resolved. The products listed at the end of the article are the cream of the crop; they will allow you to get control of any infestation quickly and safely.
LICE CONTROL BIOLOGY
Though there are over 1000 species of lice world wide, there are just a few which are active on people or pets. Most lice are animal specific; with out this particular host close by they will simply die off and reproduction cycles will stop. Yet it is not uncommon to find any one person with different types of lice on them. They might have a combination of pubic lice along with head lice. Both species will coexist and even though they prefer certain body regions they will migrate and feed in other areas if the environment is right and food plentiful. Lice obtain their food by either chewing or sucking. The most common lice which humans encounter are head lice, body lice and pubic lice (crabs). These are all sucking lice. Chewing lice rarely infest humans and most reported incidents stem from people who work in close proximity to animals which have chewing lice on them.
LICE CONTROL LIFE CYCLE
Sucking lice complete a life cycle by first hatching from an egg which is usually laid on a hair close to the scalp. There is a strong glue which binds the egg to the hair. Often referred to as a “nit”, lice eggs are the single most important part of breaking the life cycle when trying to purge a local infestation. More on that later… When eggs hatch, the young is referred to as a nymph and will begin to feed immediately. This stage goes through three stages until it reaches adulthood. At that time adult females will begin to lay eggs and the cycle will start again.
The time span it takes a newly born louse to grow to adulthood will vary with each species. Head lice young take 7-14 days to mature and once adult live about a month. During that time a single female will lay about 100 eggs. Crabs or Pubic lice take about twice as long to mature – generally about a month – and adults will live another month with females laying about 50 eggs before they die. Body lice will take about a month to fully develop as well and once mature will live another 30 days. Females of this species will lay 300 eggs or more during her adulthood.
Though all three feed on human blood, the head and pubic lice live in the scalp or pubic region amongst human hair and body lice actually live in the clothing of the individual on which it feeds. Though the individual may change clothes the body louse is able to live a lot longer away or off the host as does it’s eggs so that they can prosper even if not in close contact with food for extended periods of time.
Over the years there has been considerable debate about certain characteristics lice display as to why that might happen along with quite a lot of old wives tales which are just not true. Here are some of the common misconceptions as well as truths which you need to know if confronted with a local infestation.
1) Lice only infest the poor or unsanitary people of any one society. NOT TRUE. Any one can get lice. Adolescent girls are among the highest risk of getting pubic lice as are men over 30. Head lice is clearly most common among school children and body lice seems to be most prevalent where people are forced to huddle together closely and wear lots of clothes continuously.
2) Washing your hair will remove head lice. NOT TRUE. Though keeping your head clean is important when trying to prevent lice, shampooing will not kill them off once the hair is infested. Head lice have the ability to hold on with their strong legs and claws and eggs are laid with an epoxy-like glue which keeps the nits attached to hair during any normal wash.
3) Getting close to anyone will allow the lice to “jump” from that person onto you. NOT TRUE. Though lice do move well within the hair they reside lice cannot jump.
4) A case of Pubic Lice means you have “been somewhere dirty” and are now paying the price for this behavior. NOT TRUE. Though you can get pubic lice from intimate sexual contact there are too many other ways it could have happened as well. Do not conclude any misconduct has occurred just because of the infestation.
5) Lice have built up resistance to the pesticides being used so we can’t kill them. NOT TRUE. Lice today are just as vulnerable to Pyrethrin or Pyrethroids today as they were when these products were first introduced.
6) Lice are a transmitter of disease. TRUE. Lice have long been known to carry all kinds of disease including Typhus, Relapsing Fever and Trench Fever. This is probably the main reason lice are scorned and hated. Napoleon met defeat in Russia due to Typhus which was transmitted to over half his army of 500,00 during this invasion. Over 200,000 of them died during that time from the Typhus which was transmitted by lice.
7) Lice are hard to control. TRUE. Though it is easy to kill adult lice it is hard to kill their eggs. This is due to the nit’s shell which protects them from pesticides and other treatments. Removing the nits from the infested hair is critical to resolving the infestation and needs to be done for complete control to take place.
8) You can get lice from someone’s comb, hat or other clothing. TRUE. In fact this is the most common source of lice transmittal. Head lice and body lice are most likely to find more people to feed on via clothing, furniture, bedding and personal objects like hair brushes and combs.
If you have a lice infestation which needs some type of treatment, you have several options. The first thing that needs to be done is to establish that in fact you have lice. Though small, they can be seen. Generally white or clear in color, lice are not fast moving and can be caught with a LICE COMB or small pair of tweezers. Though adults are easy to see, the eggs of lice can be somewhat small to the naked eye. Many people confuse dandruff, skin and other small pieces of material for lice eggs. Before you go crazy trying to clean yourself of lice and lice eggs make sure you in fact have some on you.
After you have determined that you have lice, you need to wash your body hair to remove the lice. A good product for this is LICE ENZYME RINSE. This is a unique formula in that it breaks down the epoxy-like glue which attaches eggs to hair. By breaking the glue down you are then able to remove the nits which really helps in breaking the cycle.
Shampoo with this daily until the problem is resolved. Especially if you’re living in a lice infested environment.
If there have been reports of lice at your child’s school and you want to take a preventative measure, get some LICE SHAMPOO REPELLENT. This is another safe product which is both easy to use and effective. Simply add some to your regular shampoo and lice will not want to inhabit hair which has been cleaned with this product. This gives you that extra protection when lice season starts during the school year.
LICE AEROSOL SPRAY
To keep lice off clothing, apply some BEDLAM PLUS AEROSOL directly to pants and shirts. It contains an adulticide that will quickly kill lice. More importantly, it’s main active Sumithrin combines with the MGK 264 for a synergist reaction that can even kill bedbug eggs. Bedlam is pretty much odorless and can be applied to garmets, bedding, carpeting and other inanimate objects commonly found in the home. It will serve as a repellent but if lice walk on treated surfaces, they’ll die.
Though head and body lice live on their hosts, it is not uncommon to treat living areas where lice have been found. Most adults will die within a week or so if they fall off hosts but as a protective measure there are several materials which are designed for such applications. The safest material to use is PT-PI. This aerosol product uses Pyrethrin as the active ingredient which is very safe. It is derived from the Pyrethrum which is extracted from the Chrysanthemum plant – the same material which is used in the Lice Shampoo listed above. This aerosol is both quick acting and safe. You can spray it over couches, chairs, beds, mattresses, carpets and other areas including clothing. The Pyrethrin will quickly kill adult lice and larva. But since it won’t kill eggs so you will have to use it every day or two if this is your only choice of treatment.
If you want to use something which will last longer, get the LICE KILLER AEROSOL formulation. This is basically the same material as the PT-PI but it also includes some Permethrin.. This means applications will last for a week or more. This product can be applied over the same areas as the PT-PI but by using this form you won’t have to spray quite as frequently. The other added benefit of this product is that its water based. This means there is very little chance of staining or discoloration to any fabric or surface where you apply it. Both of these forms are low odor; the Lice Killer has no odor at all.
If the structure has had a history of body lice and you need to treat large areas the use of a liquid residual might be best suited. DEFENSE SC is a low odor time released material which will last 1-2 months per treatment. It should be applied with one of our SPRAYERS and should be sprayed over furniture, rugs, carpets, and other areas where body lice may have been active. Since body lice lay eggs which will lay dormant for some time it is always helpful to have a product which is around when the larva emerge. This is what the Defense will do. Generally one application of this product will provide more than long enough protection and no more than two applications are needed.
Pump Sprayer: http://www.bugspraycart.com/good/pump-sprayers
LICE LAUNDRY WASH
Clothing, linens, bedding and other loose washable items should be washed together in hot water using our KLEEN FREE LAUNDRY WASH. This additive is not a pesticide but it will help to remove both active and dead lice from fabric. Using special enzymes as penetrating agents, Kleen Free will help to loosen nit eggs and sheddings.
Lice are a persistent pest which will appear from time to time during the year depending on local conditions. Most cases reported are small and limited with just how many people are infected. Follow our guidelines for proper identification and then treat accordingly.
Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).
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