This is your louse. This is your louse on drugs. Any questions?
It has been brought to my attention that on the post about head lice impostors, I forgot to actually show you a picture of the real deal. So, here is a picture of an adult louse. Like any insect, it has 3 pairs of legs. Each leg has a lovely hook that has been designed to grab on to human hair. Baby lice (nymphs) look like this, but they are smaller and can even look like a black or red speck of pepper. Because they are kind of see-through, lice blend in well with most hair colours (they look darker on darker hair). Sometimes, you will see that lice are darker in their nether regions - that's because they are full of your blood!
The lice life begins in an nit (egg) which will hatch after 7-10 days. Then, they are nymphs (I call them teenagers) and it will take them around 7 days to grow into egg-laying bugs. Once reaching adulthood, lice can crawl around your head for around 30 days. In other words, the complete life cycle is around 30-50 days.
Harvard U. has great information page on head lice, which include the following lovely pictures of nits at different stages.
Once an egg is hatched, the removal of the egg shell is not necessary, but I do it anyway, because I would hate to miss something. As you can see, the nits even take on different colours depending on their stages. In my fair-haired son, nits can look quite dark. In a dark haired person, nits can look white. That's why I just pick every nit. Remember, nits can look like other things, but if the object moves, it is not a nit.