Pubic (Crab) Lice
Attribution: I, NH2501 [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
About 1/8-inch in length.
Ranges from tan to grayish-white.
Pubic lice are ectoparasites that feed on the blood of humans. They have six legs and are crab-like in appearance. The front two legs are larger with crab-like claws at the ends designed to grasp hairs. Known as crab lice, they are most commonly contracted via sexual contact. Very rarely will they transfer to another person from shared towels, clothes or bed linens. A common misconception is that they can be contracted from toilet seats. Not only can this louse not survive long off the host, but also it is incapable of crawling or holding onto smooth surfaces such as toilet seats. The adult female lays eggs, called “nits,” which she attaches to the bases of hairs near the body. Nits are usually oval in shape, yellow to white in color, and are very difficult to see with the unaided eye. The tiny nymphs hatch in about one week and then begin to feed. They mature into adults in about 7 days. Pubic lice must remain on a host human to survive. Should they fall off the host, they will die within 24 to 48 hours.
Pubic lice are found most often on the body in the genital area on pubic hair. Occasionally, they may be found elsewhere, such as armpits or facial hair, including mustaches, beards, or eyebrows.
Tips for Control
The presence of pubic lice is a medical issue and should be diagnosed and treated by a physician. A pest management professional can do nothing to help in dealing with this insect. Because the lice cannot live if they are not on a host, a home does not require treatment. Bedding, clothing, towels, etc. that have been in contact with an infested person can be washed in hot water and detergent for sterilization. Cleaning with any standard bathroom-cleaning product can sanitize the shower and bathroom.