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Lice have been amongst our closest neighbours since our earliest evolution, and yet as Brett Westwood discovers, they both repel and fascinate us.

They infest our bodies and our clothes, are amongst our closet neighbours, have been made famous by Robert Burns and yet they are only a few millimetres in size. Brett Westwood explores our relationship with the louse; a creature that has lived alongside since our earliest evolution. Whether it's the head, clothes or crab lice these ancient creatures both repel and fascinate us. Producer Sarah Blunt.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Mon 4 Sep 2017 21:00

Richard Jones

Richard Jones

Richard Jones is an entomologist, a fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and of the Linnean Society of London. He is the past president of the British Entomological and Natural History Society and co-author of ‘The Little Book of Nits.’

Vincent Smith

Vincent Smith

Vince Smith is Research Leader at the Natural History Museum, London coordinating the Museum's digital science programmes. His taxonomic specialisation is on parasitic lice and he works on the Museum's 80-thousand louse specimens collection, to understand the coevolution of these parasites on their bird and mammal hosts

Joanna Ibarra

Joanna Ibarra

Joanna founded the charity Community Hygiene Concern, which launched national Bug Busting Days. These promote community-wide, co-ordinated wet combing to detect head lice, a strategy warmly welcomed by Health and Education. 

Bug Buster Help Line: 01908 561928.

David Reed

David Reed

David Reed is the Curator of Mammals and Associate Director of Research & Collections at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

He is best known for research that explores human evolution through the lens of our species’ longtime traveling companion, the lowly louse.

His work focuses on host/parasite co-evolution. Lately, he has been driven by questions relating to the extent with which we can infer host evolutionary history simply by studying their host-specific parasites. 

Anne Hardy

Anne Hardy is Honorary Professor of The History of Public Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Her interests lie chiefly in the history of infectious disease, both social and scientific, and she has also taught and written on medical history since 1800.

Doug Allan

Doug Allan

In his day job, Doug is a wildlife and documentary cameraman but he is also a great raconteur and kindly agreed to read Robert Burns “To a Louse” for us.

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