lice nit picking. Looking around in your child’s hair for lice and not sure you know what you are looking for? You are not alone. Head lice have been outsmarting and outwitting us, their human hosts, for thousands of years. In fact head lice have been found on Egyptian mummies as far back as 3,000 B.C. So therefore some would call nit picking the second oldest profession. It is entirely likely that head lice have been with humans since we split off from neanderthal man some 370,000 years ago.
lice nit picking. OK so head lice have had at least 370,000 years to evolve along side humans. What were the most important traits for head lice to develop in order for this species of obligate arthropods to survive? Number one would be to be able to evade detection by their primary predators aka humans. How to evade detection by humans?
Well first you need an invisibility cloak. Check. Human head lice are clear, like a jellyfish, when alive so you can see right through them, making them appear to be invisible. The eggs of head lice, known as nits, have a special coating on their shell which makes their shell iridescent, rendering the nits invisible to humans. You might be able to see some of the nits, but you will not be able to see all of the nits.
Secondly you need your human host to not know that you are setting up a colony of lice on their head for about 3 months. This gives you enough time to have your offspring travel to another host, thereby ensuring the survival of the head louse species. Humans can not feel head lice when they are biting (taking a blood meal) on the the scalp. Check. Humans do not experience itching symptoms for at least 3 months. Check (Most humans never have any symptoms from head lice, no itching, no rashes, no nothing). This means head lice can operate in clandestine mode under cover for a long enough time to establish a good solid lice colony on the first host and to bea able to set up successful satellite colonies on several other hosts.
lice nit picking