Encyclopedia of Parasitology

Living Edition
| Editors: Heinz Mehlhorn


  • Heinz Mehlhorn
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27769-6_1750-2



Greek: phtheir = louse, a = non, pteron = wing.


Order of Insects.

General Information

The order Phthiraptera is subdivided into two suborders: Anoplura (bloodsucking lice) and Mallophaga(feeding on skin, keratinous substances of feathers and hairs, and dermal secretion fluids). Both groups show the following common features:
  • They have very short antennae (often in grooves).

  • They are always wingless.

  • Their eyes are reduced; they are eyeless or have 1 or 2 ommatidia.

  • Their feeding (on keratin or blood) always requires the aid of endosymbionts in mycetomes (which are transmitted to progeny).

  • Their life cycle constantly proceeds hemimetabolous development; the relatively large eggs are always attached to hairs, feathers, etc.

  • All developmental stages stay on their hosts permanently; host-to-host transmission occurs by body contact.

Members of the Mallophaga (Fig. 1b) are furthermore characterized by a head which is broader than the thorax and by...


Head Louse Genital Region Neem Extract Posterior Midgut Anterior Midgut 
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Further Reading

  1. Abdel-Ghaffar F, Semmler M, Al-Rasheid KAS, Klimpel S, Mehlhorn H (2010) Comparative in-vitro test on the efficacy and safety of 13 anti-head-lice products. Parasitol Res 106: 423–429.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Al-Quraishy S, Abdel-Ghaffar F, Mehlhorn H (2015) Head louse control by suffocation due to blocking their oxygen uptake. Parasitol Res 114:3105–3110.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Barker SC, Burgess I, Meinking TL, Mumcuoglu KY (2012) International guidelines for clinical trials with pediculocides. Int J Dermatol 51:853–858.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Burgess IF (2005) Current treatments for pediculosis capitis. Curr Opinions Infectious Dis 22: 131–136.Google Scholar
  5. Combescot-Lang C, Stichele RHV, Toubate B, Veirron E, Mumcuoglu KY (2015) Ex vivo effectiveness of French over the counter products against head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis De Geer, 1778). Parasitol Res 114: 1779–1792Google Scholar
  6. Gallardo A, Mougabure-Cueto G, Vassena C, Picollo MI, Toloza AC (2012) Comparative efficacy of new commercial pediculicides against adults and eggs against Pediculus humanus capitis (head lice). Parasitol Res 110:1601–1606.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Heukelbach J, Oliveira FA, Speare R (2006) A new shampoo based on neem (Azadirachta indica) is highly effective against head lice in-vitro. Parasitol Res 99: 353–356.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Mehlhorn H (2011) Head lice and their control. A long lasting story. In: Preedy VR (2011) Handbook of hair in health and disease. Wageningen Academic Publishers; pp. 355–386Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Zoomorphologie, Zellbiologie und ParasitologieHeinrich-Heine-UniversitätDüsseldorfGermany