Lice Bugs Bugging you? Did you know that Humans share their homes with hundreds of species of flies, spiders, beetles, lice and other arthropods? This US study reports that there were more than 100 species of arthropods per house. “Basically, we are all are living with lice” said Michelle Trautwein, an entomologist at the California Academy of Sciences . Although she was referring to booklice, a distant cousin of head lice. It is interesting to note how upset most people are when they find that there is a lice infestation residing in their children’s scalps.
Lice Bugs Bugging you? Why do we care so much about germs and cleanliness in 2018? With a few lysol squirts and swiffer swipes, Americans believe we can rid our homes of all living microbes. First of all this is simply not true. Secondly, arthropods have been coexisting with humans ever since we started to live in manmade structures.
In fact the vast majority of these critters are completely harmless, and possibly helpful, to humans. Furthermore most of these arthropods are unknown to us, unless they become classified as “pests”. As a result “pests” warrant attention from the chemical-laden pest removal industry. Because of their short lifecycle, many common pests can develop resistance to pesticides within 2-3 years. In fact head lice have developed resistance to pyrethroid insecticides.
Lice Bugs Bugging you? Chasing Dirt The American Pursuit of Cleanliness by SueEllen Hoy describes the history of the pursuit of cleanliness in the United States during the last 150 years. She argues that the pursuit of cleanliness has been closely tied to class. After the Civil War Americans had a reputation for being dirty and unhealthy. Photos of dirty and unwashed people indicated poor health and being lower class.
During the early part of the 20th century, before running water, impoverished immigrants in large cities did live in filthy disease-infested conditions. “We see how cleanliness gradually shifted from a way to prevent disease to a way to assimilate, to become American” says Hoy. Hoy also notes that in the 1950s “working men and women were taught by Madison Avenue executives how to cleanse themselves and become part of the increasingly sweatless, odorless, and successful middle class.” It is possible that these earlier connections between cleanliness, class & health add to the current stigma around head lice.