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Where Does Lice Come From?

Where Does Lice Come From?
Updated on 
April 12, 2017

Where Does Head Lice Come From?

When you find head lice, you may ask yourself where do head lice come from? If you’ve only found nits (lice eggs) you definitely are wondering where do nits come from? Those are difficult questions to answer because as you go about your daily life, you are exposed to people who may have lice and not even know it. You may never know where your case of lice came from, but it would have started when either a pregnant louse or two live bugs made their way to your head. If you just have eggs, then there was at one time one pregnant louse on your head.

Where Does Lice Originate From?

There are various answers to the questions of where did lice come from and where do lice come from before humans. Historically, head lice have likely been around for thousands of years; nits have even been discovered on Egyptian mummies. If you are wondering where do lice come from when not on humans, it is unlikely that your case of head lice came from something other than human head to head contact, but there is a small possibility you may have gotten it from any number of places like a bus seat or trying on clothes at the mall, but at some point a live bug or two made their way onto your head.

How Is Lice Formed?

The short explanation is that lice are formed when 2 adult lice of the opposite sex mate. Afterward, the female louse lays eggs on the strands of hair, gluing them firmly about ¼ inch from the scalp with oil she secretes. Over the course of the next week to ten days, the lice grow in the safety of the eggshell and then hatch. These immature lice, called nymphs, do nothing but mature while feeding off of blood in the scalp periodically. Once mature, a week to 10 days later, these now adult lice will begin to reproduce. A detailed explanation can be found at LiceDoctors - How Can I Eradicate Bugs and Lice Eggs?


Lice Nit

A nit is a lice egg. Lice eggs are laid after mating by a female louse and are stuck firmly to the strands of hair. Often when head lice treatment fails, it is because all of the nits are not removed. None of the products on the market today penetrates the shell of the egg, so the only way to ensure the eradication of lice and break the lice life cycle is to ensure all viable nits are removed from the hair.


Lice Nymph

Inside of the nit is a baby bug which is called a nymph. Once they hatch, these baby bugs are not able to reproduce until they mature.  During this time, a louse is most vulnerable to lice treatments; they have been removed from the safety of its eggshell. If eliminated in this part of the lice life cycle, a case of lice is easier to eradicate. This stage of a louse’s life cycle lasts roughly 10 days.


A louse is a single lice bug. Lice is the plural form of louse. When mature, adult lice mate, reproduce and feed off of the blood from the scalp during this part of the head lice life cycle. For a case of head lice to begin, either a pregnant louse or two lice of the opposite sex must be present. As a mature adult, a female louse can lay up to 6 eggs a day, approximately100 or more in her lifetime.

Lice Anatomy

Lice Anatomy

When studying head lice biology, you’ll find that head lice anatomy consists of 3 main parts: the head, the abdomen, and the thorax. A further look at lice biology reveals that the head has an antenna, eyes, and mouth. The mouth is tube-shaped with teeth that are used to cut into the scalp to feed. The thorax is the mid-section of the louse to which its 6 legs are attached. The legs have claws that enable the louse to cling onto the strands of hair and crawl up to the scalp where it feeds. The abdomen is the rear of the louse that houses its intestines and internal organs. This is the part of the lice anatomy that gives it a red or brownish color. This color comes from the blood that lice consume.

Life Span of Head Lice On Human

From the time they are laid to the time that they die of old age, head lice will live on a human head without treatment for about 30 days. The lice life cycle timeline is as follows: the nit is the first stage of the head lice life cycle timeline, which is 6-7 days. After it hatches, the nymph stage of the cycle begins. It will last roughly 10 days. Once mature, on day 16, the louse will remain in this stage, feeding, breeding, and staying warm until it dies around day 30-32.

How Long Can Lice Live Without A Host?

At all stages of their life, head lice need the environment on the human head to survive. If a louse falls off of the head, it will begin to weaken the longer it goes without feeding and the warm environment it needs to survive. Off of a human host, a louse will die within 24-36 hours.

How Long Can Eggs Live Off Host?

Lice eggs simply do not fall off the strands of hair. If, however, a strand of hair with a lice egg attached to it becomes separated from the head, the lice egg will likely not even hatch. It needs a warm environment on the head to incubate and survive. In the incredibly rare instance, a louse does hatch from a lice egg that has become separated from the head, it will die soon after.

Life Span of Head Lice on Different Objects

When dealing with head lice, it is important to remember that they live on the human head, not in the home or on other objects. Many people have been told that they should clean everything, vacuuming, laundering, and sanitizing surfaces in the house to make sure an infestation is gone. However, if you properly treat the head, any lice present on other objects like hair accessories, hair brushes, bedding, scarves, shirts, etc., will eventually die on their own within 24-36 hours. Please remember that it is the head, not the house, that you have to treat to get rid of head lice.

LiceDoctors Eliminates Lice at All Stages

The life cycle of lice continues until all of the bugs and nits are removed from the hair. Head lice cases do not go away by themselves. LiceDoctors offers a safe, all-natural treatment that will leave you lice-free. LiceDoctors technicians can eradicate head lice at any and all stages of infestation! Call us for same-day service at 800-224-2537.

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