When you get head lie or when your children bring lice back from school or Sports clubs, the first questions that pops into your mind are: how did they get this? Can head lice jump from one’s head to another’s? Do lice jump?
The truth is that head lice are human parasites that, contrary to many other insects, cannot jump. They just don’t have the ability to do so. So, do lice jump? No, because they can’t. Head lice cannot jump because their legs do not allow them to do so.
Let’s take a look at the magnified picture of a louse just below:
Gilles San Martin – CC BY-SA 2.0
As you can see on the picture, each one of the louse’s 6 legs has claws at its end. With such claws, lice are totally unable to jump. What they can do is use these claws to crawl on the hair, and to crawl from one hair to another hair.
If you have also been asking yourself if lice can fly, you also have the answer by looking at the above picture: lice have no wings, so they obviously cannot fly.
The only thing they can do is crawl: they don’t walk, they don’t jump, they don’t hop, they don’t swim, and they don’t fly. This is why head lice get transmitted only by contact between an infested hair and a non-infested one.
Head-to-head contact is thus the #1 mode of transmission of head lice. Transmission of head lice can also occur between hair with a live louse on it that has fallen on the floor, or that sticks to personal belongings such as brushes, combs, helmets, ribbons, scarves, etc., and hair that is not yet infested with lice.
Many people believe that lice can jump, but as you can see, this is really a myth, as lice can only crawl. If you happen to have in your hair an insect that has wings or that doesn’t have claws at the end of its legs, then it is simply not head lice.