Lice Lifecycle


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Lifecycle of Lice - 3 Stages
Lice have three stages in their lifecycle - nit/egg, nymph and adult. The entire lifecycle usually consists of approximately one month and during this time the adult female louse can lay several eggs each day. Learning about the lifecycle of lice is essential as it will assist when you are trying to eradicate an infestation. Similar to other parasites, such as fleas, you need to target every stage of their lifecycle to be certain that all ages and developments of lice are treated and removed. Therefore, if you are trying products that solely treat the adult lice (but not eggs/nits) you may require a minimum of two applications of that treatment, as this will ensure that any newly hatched eggs/nymphs are killed on the 2nd attempt.

Timeframes will vary slightly, however below is a high level overview of the lifecycle of lice

  • An egg/nit is laid and glued to the bottom of the hair shaft, near to the scalp
  • Approx. one week later, a nymph hatches from the egg casing
  • The nymph experiences its first moult, two days after hatching
  • The nymph will then moult a second time (five days after hatching)
  • The third and final moult for the nymph will take place approx. after ten days of hatching and is now a developed adult
  • An adult male and an adult female louse (usually the bigger of the two) will then mate
  • The female adult lays the first of its eggs approximately two days after mating
  • The female adult louse continues to produce eggs each day thereafter for approx. two weeks and then it dies

The lifecycle starts when an adult female louse lays her first eggs/nits. Where they are laid depends on the type of lice, but for head lice they are attached to the base of hair shafts close to the scalp for warmth. Louse eggs are very small (no bigger than 1mm),  oval-shaped and difficult to see without a magnified glass or good pair of glasses. The eggs vary in color from white to a yellowish brown and can look like dried skin or dandruff.  Once hatched, the egg casing left behind ('nit') remains attached to wherever it was laid. With a closer inspection, eggs/nits can usually be identified as alive, hatched or dead. Hatched eggs have a hole at the tip, dead nits are usually withered/concaved and live eggs are swollen and round. To check if the nits do contain live eggs, you can squeeze them with your fingers to see if they pop.

Lifecycle of Lice

lice lifecycle

The next stage of the lifecycle starts with the nymphs hatching from the egg. Nymphs look a lot like adult lice but they are smaller. Nymphs cannot stay alive for very long without feeding. They therefore need a hosts blood to grow and survive. Nymphs moults three times before becoming adults and are unable to reproduce until all 3 are completed (approx. 10 days). Nymphs cant jump or fly but they can crawl, using 6 legs and claws to attach themselves. A discarded shell is left each time the nymph moults, and these casings can be mistaken for a living louse.



Adulthood is the 3rd stage of the lifecycle. Adult male lice are generally smaller than their female equivalents. Our image above identifies the female above the male. The male adult does have larger front legs though, and these are used for grasping the female when mating. Adult lice are also wingless, unable to jump and can only walk around on their six legs. Once adulthood is reached, lice begin pairing off within the first 12 hours and mating can take place as soon as that day or night. Adult females are able to lay between 4 and 8 eggs each day, over a 4 week period.

Thousands of people search to find out about the Lifecycle of Lice and how to get rid of them. Fortunately there are so many products available on line, you should be able to find what you want without too much of a problem. We hope that you have found this article a useful guide and that any questions you may have had have been answered. You will find that this website is a great resource, including this article on the Lifecycle of Lice, whether you are looking to learn more, purchase lice related products or just seek some quiet information. Men, women and children are all affected by the head louse and we hope you have located the treatment you may need, be it a comb, lotion, cream, medication or shampoo. Head louse treatments and remedies should be sought after quickly and if you have pubic lice you should seek medical advice so they cannot be spread or infect others.

Lifecycle of Lice

Lifecycle of Lice

  • Combs, Liquids, Lotions, Insecticides and Medication for control
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  • Need crabs treatment? Find out what to do here at
  • Symptoms of nits? Search our information on Combs!
  • Lifecycle of the Louse and information on possible prevention methods, treatment and avoidance
  • What is a nit? Take a look at our image and photo pages

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