Where Do Lice Come From? Bugs that Look like Lice

Lice are the contagious parasites that are harmless. Pediculus humanus capitis or lice are microscopic insects that reside within your hair. The head lice feed on other living bodies in order to survive. They feed on human blood from the scalp to survive. The head lice are neither airborne nor do they fly. They cannot live in water and only survive by clinging on the hair strands. But where do lice come from? What are cat lice? What’s the difference between flea vs lice? Which bugs look like lice?



There are two common answers for this question, one is that you might have caught lice from another person when in head-to-head contact. You can also catch lice if you use the personal belongings like brush, comb or clothing items of another person.

Another answer for this question where do lice come from that ten thousand years ago head lice evolved differently from the body lice once the humans started wearing clothing items. The head lice attach over the scalp while the body lice attach to the thin clothing fibers.

It divides the head lice into 3 clades based on the genetic makeup. The clade is a term used to describe a group of organisms sharing a common ancestor but not identical to each other. They divide the clades into A, B and C clades based on their geographic distribution along with their genetic characteristics. The head lice belonging to Clade B originated within North America and migrated to the entire world including Europe and Australia.

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The scientists derived the DNA from mitochondria of headlice all around the world to trace the ancestry of head lice i.e. around 2 million years back. They believe Clade C split from the rest of the group after 700,000 to 1 million years ago that the split between Clade B and Clade A.

There are three different types of lice, head lice, body lice, and cat lice. All the lice emerged several years ago. They made these discoveries based on their genetic differences.


The head lice are present over the scalp, it transmits from one person to another through close personal association. Mostly, the person with lice infestation should be in close contact with the head of the infected person. Sharing brushes, combs, hats, towels or other personal stuff results in the spread of lice. The lice travel by crawling onto the scalp or hair of a person. It can also invade a person’s clothing.

The body lice is a parasite with a mutation, it has claws which allows them to grab the smooth clothing fibers rather than clinging on the hair shafts.

The cat lice infest the pets and cause discomfort along with itchiness for your pets. Catching lice or fleas is very common for pets even if they are indoors. Fleas and lice easily survive in the humid and warm environment, especially during summer.


Fleas and lice are both harmful to you as well as your pets. Both fleas and lice are wingless, small and parasitic insects which are capable of living on you as well as your pet. Both of them result in discomfort for the hosts. They cause itchiness and irritation to the skin.

Following are the differences between flea vs lice:

  • Other than these similarities, fleas can jump for many inches within the air while lice are slow-moving insects and they are sedentary.
  • The lice are easier to eradicate while the fleas are difficult to get rid of. The fleas need intensive treatment for complete eradication.
  • Fleas bite the warm-blooded animals such as cats, dogs, and humans while scientific studies base the lice on species.
  • Pets are more prone to lice especially dogs and cats. They catch lice due to poor health, bad hygiene, and nutrition. The two different types of lice affect the dogs i.e. suckling and biting lice. The different types of biting lice affect the cats. When the lice bite the cats and dogs, they experience itchiness, skin irritation and scabs because of scratching. Specific shampoos and powders affect the lice which they formulate for pets.


Bedbugs have a great resemblance to lice. It is a prime concern to identify the type of pest infesting your body or your home. Whatever, the bug is you need a proper eradication plan to get rid of them.

Bedbugs or Cimex lectularius are oval-shaped, flat insects. They are small and reddish-brown insects with six legs. The adult bedbugs are a 1/4th inch in length while the nymphs or baby bedbugs are a 1/16th inch in length. Lice or Pediculus humanus spp have white to brown or dark gray color. They are six-legged, tiny insects with oval-shaped bodies. The adult lice are a 1/8th inch in length while the baby lice or nymphs are similar in size to the baby bedbugs.

Bedbugs are parasites which carry the diseases so you need a professional exterminator to get rid of them.  There are three different types of lice i.e. body, head, and pubic lice. The body lice are the only ones known for causing the disease. They result in trench fever, live-born relapse fever, epidemic typhus or lice-borne typhus.

Also read:Best Home Remedies to Get Rid of Lizards and Commercial Repellents

Both bedbugs and lice cannot fly so it is difficult to determine them. If a bug similar to both of them is flying, then suspect a cockroach, carpet beetle or nymph.

You find bedbugs near beddings, crevices, and cracks. You can also find them in clothing, personal items, luggage, furniture, and others. On the other hand, you will find lice over the host. They attach the eggs over the host and feed on them.

Bugs that look like lice


Lice are the creepy creatures, it is a very embarrassing situation if one catches the lice. Once you identify lice or bugs that look like lice, you definitely need an immediate treatment to get rid of them.



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