Pubic lice are sometimes called crab lice, or simply "crabs" because of their overall body shape and the crab-like claws on the back two pairs of legs (see drawing left). The claws are adapted to hanging onto the relatively course hairs of the groin, armpit, chest and sometimes eyelashes where these insects live. See this page at our 'Bugs site for a color photograph of a pubic louse shortly after feeding.
Pubic lice are very small insects (less than 1/10") that bite to feed on blood. Their bites results in very itchy lesions but pubic lice are not important in disease transmission.
Pubic lice eggs are laid on the hair and, like head lice, removal of these eggs, or nits, is important for effective treatment. Treatment should include nit combing and use of medicated lice shampoo or lotion.
Pubic lice infestations are highly treatable and should be no reason for panic. Since pubic lice can be transferred during sexual contact, partners of infested individuals should be treated as well.