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The Reproduction of Head Lice

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Updated on July 19, 2020

Written by lice technician Nikki Palmer

While on the job as a lice technician, I’m often bombarded with lots of questions about head lice. Questions like, “Do lice reproduce sexually or asexually?” was inquired by one of my most recent clients, and I must say, it is a great question. So, let’s dive into it!

What is Asexual Reproduction?

According to Wikipedia, asexual reproduction is a type of reproduction by which offspring arise from a single organism and inherit the genes of that parent only; it does not involve the fusion of gametes (haploid cells), and almost never changes the number of chromosomes. Asexual reproduction is the primary form of reproduction for single-celled organisms such as archaea and bacteria. Many plants and fungi sometimes reproduce asexually. Click here to learn more concerning the contents of asexual reproduction amongst various organisms

How do Lice Reproduce?

When it comes to procreating, the means by which it is done is just like every other insect when it comes to head lice. Once a female louse has reached her mature state, she requires the donation of a male louse in order to begin the fertilization process. As stated by Lice World  adult head lice mate upon finishing the final stage of shedding. The males try to mate with all lice regardless of their gender, or whether the other lice are well-developed nymphs in the third stage. The mating process takes a relatively long time – occasionally more than a half hour. At the end of this process, both the male and the female must separate from each other. Should one of them die in the process they will be stuck together forever—so much for “till death do us part,” right?

How Long Does it Take for a Louse to Lay an egg?

After conception, the female lays 3 to 5 nits (eggs) almost immediately. After about 10 days, the nits will hatch, and it will take about 10 more days for those bugs to begin laying nits of their own. This process will continue until all the lice are taken out of the host’s hair. LiceDoctors protocol is designed to ensure that breeding between these pests are put to a prompt end. Visit our Education Center to learn more or call 310-923-9787 and an expert lice technician can make a house call to you and leave you lice-free!