The sucking lice, of the order Anoplura, are external parasites of humans and other mammals, feeding on blood by means of their piercing-and-sucking mouthparts. The group includes the body lice and head lice, considered varieties of the same species,
The chewing, or biting, lice, of the order Mallophaga, have chewing mouthparts and feed on hair, skin, or feather fragments of the host. They attack birds, rodents, and domesticated animals. Although they do not actually puncture the skin, and thus are scavengers and not true parasites, they often multiply so rapidly that they irritate, weaken, and may even kill the host. The chicken louse,
The book louse is a tiny, wingless, cosmopolitan insect that damages books by feeding on glue, paste, and paper. It resembles lice but is not related, belonging to the order Psocoptera. The aphid is sometimes called plant louse.
Lice are classified in the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, orders Anoplura and Mallophaga.
See bulletins of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Zoology: Invertebrates