sucking louse

sucking louse

Any of more than 400 species (suborder Anoplura, order Phthiraptera) of small, wingless, flat ectoparasitic insects found worldwide. They have piercing and sucking mouthparts for extracting their food of mammals' blood and tissue fluids. The nymphs mature after several molts. Species are host-specific: Pediculus infests humans (see human louse), whereas other sucking lice (genera Haematopinus and Linognathus) attack domestic animals, such as hogs, cattle, horses, and dogs.

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Sucking lice (Anoplura) have around 500 species and represent the smaller of the two traditional suborders of lice. The Anoplura are all blood-feeding ectoparasites of mammals. They can cause localised skin irritations and are vectors of several blood-borne diseases.

Children appear particularly susceptible to attracting lice, possibly due to their fine hair.

At least three species of Anoplura are parasites of humans; the human condition of being infested with sucking lice is called pediculosis. Pediculus humanus is divided into two subspecies, Pediculus humanus humanus, or the body louse, sometimes nicknamed "the seam squirrel" for its habit of laying of eggs in the seams of clothing, and Pediculus humanus capitis, or the head louse. Phthirus pubis (the pubic louse) is the cause of the condition known as crabs.

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