Bugs That Live on You

  • By Kate Becker
  • Posted 01.06.11
  • NOVA scienceNOW

From your head to your toes, your body is a veritable jungle of flora and fauna. Some are visitors, some are permanent residents, but all are enough to make the average person queasy. Whether we like or not, our bodies are perfect environments for the creepy and crawly. For hundreds of thousands of years, these animals have called our bodies home—or at least "food." This list isn't comprehensive, but it will give you a taste of the pests that are having a taste of you.

Launch Interactive

From bed bugs to eyelash mites, a jungle of insects and arachnids thrives on and around the human body.

Kate Becker is a researcher for NOVA and NOVA scienceNOW, and a frequent contributor to NOVA's blog.


Melissa Salpietra contributed to this slide show.


(head louse)
Eye of Science / Photo Researchers, Inc.
(body louse)
CDC/Frank Collins, Ph.D., James Gathany
(eyelash mite)
Andrew Syred / Photo Researchers, Inc.
CDC/Dr. Christopher Paddock, James Gathany
(human botfly)
Laboratory Identification of Parasites of Public Health Concern, CDC
(dust mite)
Andrew Syred / Photo Researchers, Inc.
(bed bug)
Janice Haney Carr, CDC
(scabies mite)
Eye of Science / Photo Researchers, Inc.

Related Links

  • Hunt for the Giant Leech

    You suddenly find yourself waist-deep in the swampy home of the giant Amazonian leech. What now?

  • Bed Bug Sex

    Gross Science: How bed bugs reproduce is the stuff of nightmares.

  • Five Reasons to Eat Insects

    Save room for bugs! They're the future of green cuisine.

  • The Zoo of You

    In this interactive, see how closely parts of your body match those in other animals, from sharks to fruit flies.


You need the Flash Player plug-in to view this content.