Head Lice

Pediculus humanus capitis

head lice

Adult head louse (Gilles San Martin, Wikimedia Commons)

head lice

Head Lice (Jim Occi, BugPics, Bugwood.org)

head lice

Head lice nits (Kosta Momcuoglu, Wikimedia Commons)


  • adults: small, cream to rust-colored insects about the size of a sesame seed
  • eggs (nits) resemble dandruff flakes both in appearance and size and are attached to hairs

Nesting Habits

  • hold on to hair above ears and near neckline with clawlike legs
  • spread by direct contact with infested persons or belongings


  • feed by piercing skin with claws and sucking out blood


  • bites result in small, red, itchy bumps on scalp and shoulders
  • will die within 2 days if they are not on a host

IPM Recommendations

  • Perform inspections often, especially when other children are known to have lice.
  • Encourage children NOT to share brushes, combs, hats, barrettes, towels and bedding.
  • Clean carpets and furniture in classrooms frequently.
  • Be aware of medical and privacy issues.
  • Consult your school nurse.
  • Pesticides are NOT recommended.
  • Use a nit comb to remove lice and nits from hair.

Additional Resources:

Human Lice fact sheet

IPM for Head Lice: Integrated Pest Management in Sensitive Environments (University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension)