What luck, six-year-old came home with the usual head-louse letter last week. Perfect timing. We’ve been louse-free for six months now, but I knew it would not last. Luckily he has straight fine hair and a quick run through with the nit comb we bought on holiday (that’s another story) showed nothing…this time. Lice hold no fear in this household. They come, they go, and occasionally I will mount one on a card as an entomological exhibit.
It is perfect timing because it gives a perfect way in to introduce this blog, all about head lice. We love lice, or rather we love to hate them. To vent this love/hate relationship with nits, Justine and I are writing a book about them.
Here’s what we know about lice:
They are beautifully described in a Victorian monograph as ‘cadaverous ashen white’. Masterful.
They bite. But it doesn’t hurt. Strange.
They suck blood. That’s what the black wiggly line is down the inside of their body — your blood.
They sneak about as if by magic, but they don’t fly, they don’t jump, they don’t hop or skip or vault.
They don’t live in hats, or hair-brushes, or towels or cycle helmets. Nor do they loiter with intent on the lacy antimacassars draped over the back of your grandparent’s easy chairs.
Lice are fascinating.
After the combing I checked close up too and as far as I can see there are no empty egg shells either.
Stephanie asked me recently “How did the first head lice discover that it was worth finding human heads to live on, and what did they do for food before then?” So I now have to produce evolutionary theory, along with steering the fine social balance between “if you have nits, we must try everything we can to eliminate them” and “if someone in your class has nits, it is not because they have not taken proper precautions”. Minefields everywhere you look.
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