Behavior And Reproduction

Most louse species remain attached to their host for their entire lives. Their populations vary greatly in size and are strongly influenced by the condition and health of their hosts. For example, birds with damaged bills or feet may have more lice because they are unable to preen or clean themselves efficiently. Some lice escape preening by wedging themselves between feather barbs or by living at the bases of fluffy feathers on the bird's abdomen. They will bite into the feathers with their mouthparts and lock their jaws in place. Some species go to the extreme of actually living inside the quills of wing feathers to escape preening by their shorebird hosts. The dead, dried bodies of lice are found firmly attached to bird and mammal skins in museum collections, sometime hundreds of years after the collection and death of their host.

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