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Head Lice

Head lice are tiny, wingless insects which make their home in human hair and feed on human blood. They multiply rapidly and are spread from person to person by direct head-to-head contact. They can also be spread by sharing combs, hats and other objects such as carpet, car seats and beddling. Anyone can get head lice; they are not a sign of being dirty. Although head lice move quickly they cannot fly, jump or hop onto another person; they are not spread by pets.

Lice do not spread diseases, and are therefore not a major health problem.


nits on hair head lice on comb head louse magnified
The greyish-colored oval-shaped eggs, called nits, are glued to the base of the hair, close the scalp. Adults are 1/10 to 1/8 of an inch long. They are clear in color when hatched, then quickly develop a reddish-brown color after feeding.

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Identification and Control Information (each will open in a new window)




It is the policy of the State of Maine to minimize reliance on pesticides. The Maine Department of Agriculture and the Maine IPM Council encourage everyone to practice integrated pest management and to use pesticides only as a last resort. The mention of pesticides in the fact sheets linked to these pages does not imply an endorsement of any product. Be sure that any product used is currently registered and follow all label directions.