louse

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Related to body louse: head louse, Bed bugs

louse,

common name for members of either of two distinct orders of wingless, parasitic, disease-carrying insectsinsect,
invertebrate animal of the class Insecta of the phylum Arthropoda. Like other arthropods, an insect has a hard outer covering, or exoskeleton, a segmented body, and jointed legs. Adult insects typically have wings and are the only flying invertebrates.
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. Lice of both groups are small and flattened with short legs adapted for clinging to the host.

The sucking lice, of the order Anoplura, are external parasites of humans and other mammals, feeding on blood by means of their piercing-and-sucking mouthparts. The group includes the body lice and head lice, considered varieties of the same species, Pediculus humanus, and the crab, or pubic, louse, Phthirus pubis, named for its crablike appearance. A female sucking louse lays about 300 eggs, or nits, in her lifetime, cementing them to body hairs and underclothing. The larva resembles the adult; the life cycle takes about 16 days. Sucking lice infestations are common in crowded living conditions and where clothing is not changed or washed frequently. Body lice may transmit rickettsial diseases (see rickettsiarickettsia
, any of a group of very small microorganisms, many disease-causing, that live in vertebrates and are transmitted by bloodsucking parasitic arthropods such as fleas, lice (see louse), and ticks.
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) and bacterial infections such as relapsing fever; infection results from scratching the crushed louse or its feces into the skin.

The chewing, or biting, lice, of the order Mallophaga, have chewing mouthparts and feed on hair, skin, or feather fragments of the host. They attack birds, rodents, and domesticated animals. Although they do not actually puncture the skin, and thus are scavengers and not true parasites, they often multiply so rapidly that they irritate, weaken, and may even kill the host. The chicken louse, Menopon pallidum, if left uncontrolled, can be a major problem in poultry production. Chewing lice may produce 6 to 12 generations annually. The eggs hatch into rapidly developing young in which metamorphosismetamorphosis
[Gr.,=transformation], in zoology, term used to describe a form of development from egg to adult in which there is a series of distinct stages. Many insects, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans, and fishes undergo metamorphosis, which may involve a change in habitat,
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 is incomplete, as in many parasites.

The book louse is a tiny, wingless, cosmopolitan insect that damages books by feeding on glue, paste, and paper. It resembles lice but is not related, belonging to the order Psocoptera. The aphidaphid
or plant louse,
tiny, usually green, soft-bodied, pear-shaped insect injurious to vegetation. It is also called greenfly and blight. Aphids are mostly under 1-4 in. (6 mm) long.
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 is sometimes called plant louse.

Lice are classified in the phylum ArthropodaArthropoda
[Gr.,=jointed feet], largest and most diverse animal phylum. The arthropods include crustaceans, insects, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, scorpions, and the extinct trilobites.
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, class Insecta, orders Anoplura and Mallophaga.

Bibliography

See bulletins of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

louse

[lau̇s]
(invertebrate zoology)
The common name for the apterous ectoparasites composing the orders Anoplura and Mallophaga.

louse

1. any wingless bloodsucking insect of the order Anoplura: includes Pediculus capitis (head louse), Pediculus corporis (body louse), and the crab louse, all of which infest man
2. biting or bird louse any wingless insect of the order Mallophaga, such as the chicken louse: external parasites of birds and mammals with biting mouthparts
3. any of various similar but unrelated insects, such as the plant louse and book louse
References in periodicals archive ?
quintana is the body louse, although recent studies suggest head lice may also vector disease agents (10-12).
The research also sequenced the genome of a microbe that lives inside the body louse.
This study revealed that, despite having the smallest known insect genome (108 Mb) and a parasitic lifestyle, the body louse has retained a remarkably complete repertoire of 10,773 protein-coding genes.
Before genetic tools that differentiate the head and body louse lineages were available (5), it was speculated that body lice may have originated from head lice (9).
After a genetic analysis of the louse genome, the researchers learnt that "it was impossible to distinguish the head louse from the body louse at the genetic level," National Geographic Society reported.
Humans are the sole hosts of the pubic louse (Pthirus pubis), the body louse (Pediculus humanus humanus), and the head louse (Pediculus humanus capitis) (1).
Although generally despised, the blood-sucking human body louse, Pediculus humanus, has gained newfound popularity among scientists for a surprising genetic feature.
In the study conducted on wild wood mice, Janette Bradley and her colleagues have found that body louse reduced the readiness of the innate system to mount an immune response.
pestis could be mediated by human ectoparasites, such as the human body louse (2).
From 50 randomly selected persons, each of whom had at least 3 body lice and 3 head lice; we selected 1 head louse and 1 body louse from each person for amplification and sequencing of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome b as described (11).