Pubic Lice Endangered Due to, Ahem, Habitat Loss

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Like it or not, your body is host to an incredible array of microscopic organisms carrying out their lives with you as their ride -- an estimated 100 trillion, to be exact. But for one age-old member of the human body's ecosystem, recent trends in body-hair grooming are endangering its very existence.

For the last 3 million years, humans have played home to the insect parasite Pthirus pubis, commonly known as pubic lice or crab louse, propagating in hair throughout the body, with one region in particular being their favorite. And while our relationship with these tiny bloodsuckers has surely never been a welcome one, pubic lice have come to rely on humans as their one and only host species.

But in a growing number of places throughout the world, this organism is finding new homes harder to come by.

According to a report from Bloomberg News, a rise in the number of bikini or Brazilian waxes and "manscaping" means that around 80 percent of college students in the U.S. have either none, or little pubic lice habitat. Across the globe in Sydney, Australia, clinicians say that infestations haven't been reported in women since 2008.

“Pubic grooming has led to a severe depletion of crab louse populations,” entomologist Ian F. Burgess, of the Insect Research & Development Ltd, tells Bloomberg. “Add to that other aspects of body hair depilation, and you can see an environmental disaster in the making for this species.”

While you might be hard-pressed to find someone other than an insect scientist to mourn the decline of this pesky species, it's still important to note how a small change in human behavior can impact organisms which have been around for so long.

Via Bloomberg

Tags: Biodiversity | Biology | Health | Insects