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Chewing and Sucking Lice: Phthiraptera

Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Behavior And Reproduction, Chewing And Sucking Lice And People, Human Head/body Louse (pediculus Humanus): Species AccountsGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS

HUMAN HEAD/BODY LOUSE (Pediculus humanus): SPECIES ACCOUNTS
SLENDER PIGEON LOUSE (Columbicola columbae): SPECIES ACCOUNTS

Chewing and sucking lice are found on all continents, including Antarctica. The distribution of lice is roughly similar to that of the birds and mammals on which they live. However, their distribution within the host population is not uniform. They are usually quite patchy or concentrated in some areas. There are 4,927 species of lice worldwide, with about 780 species in the United States and Canada.

The sucking lice feed exclusively on the blood of mammals. They use their mouthparts to pierce the skin of their host and suck up blood from the small blood vessels located near the skin surface. Chewing lice use their biting mouthparts to feed on feathers, hair, bits of skin, dried blood, and other skin secretions.

Only one species of louse is listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The pygmy hog louse is listed as Endangered or facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. Its host, the pygmy hog of India, is also listed as Endangered.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceInsects and Spiders