How Long Can Lice Live Without a Host?

There are certain conditions that affect the length of time that the lice eggs can survive without a host. For instance, the eggs of the lice cannot hatch in temperatures that are lower than the average body temperature that is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the nymphs and adult lice are not affected by the changes in temperature. If you want to know that how long can lice live without a host then you should first try to understand its life cycle.


1. The Nit Stage: In this stage, you can see a tiny off-white oval that is less than a millimeter in size and it is 1/3rd of a millimeter when it is laid. The eggs that are dead are brown in color that collapses on the side. At this stage, many people mistake it for dandruff. It is usually laid on the bottom of hair shaft so that they can get body heat for incubation

2. Nit Hatching Stage: In this stage, the head of the louse emerge from the egg. The eggs that are hatched become pale and it becomes hollow with a hole on the top and it does not pop when it is squashed. It is no longer considered as nit once it has emerged fully.

3. First Instar (Insect Development Stage) Head Lice Nymph Stage: At this stage, the louse looks similar to an insect but it is small in size. It is compared to the pin’s head size. The female ones are bit larger than the male ones. Their body is yellowish type that depends on how recently they are fed. This stage is known as the precarious stage because at this stage many of them die.

4. Second Instar Head Lice Nymph Stage: In this stage, the lice look similar to the first instar head lice nymph but it is a bit larger.

5. Final Stage or Adult Stage: In this stage, the lice look similar but it is larger in size and is dark in color. The adult lice are quite active and they can move quickly. At this stage, the female lice lay eggs. They lay up to 90 nits (eggs) in their life cycle.

6. Death: Between 32-35 days the louse dies. Usually the lice are very active and quick but the dead ones will not move if you poke them to check whether they are alive or not.


How Long Can Lice Live Without a Host


Mostly, the lice spread through physical contact; for instance, if two persons are close to each other or their heads touch each other but it also spread by sharing comb, scarves, hats or clothes. However, if the lice leave the scalp and if they do not find another host or they are not able to find the way to the original host then it will typically starve within one or two days. The adult lice die within 2-3 days without a host. The nits are able to live off the host for longer period of time but they are rarely separated from its host because they are glued to the hair strand.