Life cycle of the Pubic (or Crab) Louse (Pthirus pubis), an ectoparasite of humans

Life cycle of the Pubic (or Crab) Louse (Pthirus pubis), an ectoparasite of humans
Photographer: Centers for Disease Control/Division of Parasitic Diseases and MalariaRights holder: Centers for Disease Control/Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria

Pubic lice (Pthirus pubis) have three stages: egg, nymph and adult.  Eggs (nits) are laid on a hair shaft (1).  Females will lay approximately 30 eggs during their 3-4 week life span.  Eggs hatch after about a week and become nymphs, which look like smaller versions of the adults.  The nymphs undergo three molts (2, 3, 4) before becoming adults (5).  Adults are 1.5-2.0 mm long and flattened.  They are much broader in comparison to head and body lice.  Adults are found only on the human host and require human blood to survive.  If adults are forced off the host, they will die within 24-48 hours without a blood feeding.  Pubic lice are transmitted from person to person most commonly via sexual contact, although fomites (bedding, clothing) may play a minor role in their transmission.

From Centers for Disease Control Parasites and Health website.