I have pubic lice in my mailbox

As much as that sounds like a euphemism, it isn’t.

Remember the crazy guy who claims he has specially bred giant Japanese crab lice that don’t bite? And that they make great pets? (“Like Sea Monkeys in Your Pants!”)

So, when I wrote about that–and how utterly full of shit that website is–I got an email from a reporter. The LoveBugz.net website offers to send you your very own “pets” if you send them your address and a buck. The reporter wanted to buy some lice and have me look at them.

I thought the site was just a creative ad-farm scheme, so said “Sure! Send ‘em to me!”
Because, seriously.
It had to be a a scam. Who is going to go to the Better Business Bureau and complain that they didn’t get the pubic lice they paid for?

Just in case, though, I gave him my home address, rather than my work address, since I have only been in my new job 7 months and wasn’t sure what might show up in the mailroom.

And then: An envelope DID show up. (Sealed with duct tape, too!)

It appears to have a postal mark from Teterboro, NJ. And scrawled across the front: “Live Insects! Handle with Care!”

Inside was a folded letter, and inside the letter was this:

I think most of you are having the same reaction I did: EW.

The letter that came with it had instructions:

I think I can safely speak for the vast majority of the readers of this blog when I say “Oh, HELL no!”

I’ll wait while the mass collective shuddering dies down.

So–I put the “specimen” in a sealed tupperware container with a moist towel, set it on my plant warming pad (since lice are triggered to emerge by moisture and heat), and took them to work with me the next day. Where 2 graduate students were fascinated, and 1 was pretty much traumatized by the whole concept and probably tried to autoclave herself after I left the lab.

[Also, a tip: if you walk into your new workplace brandishing a container of putative pubic lice and sand, you may want to provide a more detailed back story than "I bought them on the internet." Just some advice.]

Anyway, we looked carefully under the scope, and aside from documenting that Mr. LoveBugz is (a) brunette; and (b) has pubic hair that is very smooth and well conditioned; we found no nits or lice.

There was sand; and there was some stuff that looked like seed capsules; but unless lice have developed egg capsules that look remarkably like they have cell walls, there were no nits, dead or alive.

Here’s the closest thing to a nit I found (additional photos here and here.) Nothing that I have read in any taxonomic descriptions so far mentions this kind of pattern.

While plant cells have cell walls, no animal cells do. Ergo: This ain’t an animal.
Everything I picked out of that sample turned out to look very similar–plant material, not animal.

There are regrettably few photos of crab lice nits available online, although plenty exist for head lice. You can see some sculpturing of the outer egg case in this photo, but nothing like…well, cell walls. You don’t see it in this electron micrograph, either.

There was a hole in the envelope, so it is entirely possible that the nits that were promised fell out of the envelope in transit. However, why in the world would you not send them in a sealed container of some kind? Even a paper towel in an unsealed Baggie™ would have worked.

And why mail them in sand? Sand is abrasive, and likely to crush anything else during transit in surface mail. Sending the lice packed in sand, and telling the recipient to put sand in their undies and not wash for a week?
Yeah, that’ll happen.

Conclusion: The Site is Still Bullshit.
But they are willing to go a long way to keep up their hoax and/or delusion.

EDITED TO ADD: Some folks are arguing that I haven’t “proven” that the site is BS. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. They claim to have lice that don’t drink blood and aren’t irritating–which contradicts what we know about all 3 types of human body lice for recorded history, as well as physical evidence for an even long period of time.

They have provided no additional evidence for me to evaluate that claim, and in fact set things up so it would fail. I stick with my conclusion.

Additional things to read about pubic lice:

57 thoughts on “I have pubic lice in my mailbox

  1. On the other hand, putting sand down your nethergarments and not washing for a week sounds like a good way to get some sort of organismal growth happening down there, even if not necessarily actual lice. “If not satisfied with your lice, we’ll give you a free sample of genital tinea!”

    Seriously. Yuck.

  2. Dear god, this is hilarious. However heinous it is to make a living selling pubic vermin over the internet, it is somehow even more despicable to take people’s money and then NOT send them pubic lice.

  3. Maybe the sand is a reference to an ancient remedy for pubic lice: Douse the affected area with a mixture of sand and alcohol. The lice will get drunk and stone themselves to death.

  4. Polysyllabic expletive!

    Damn near speechless. And yes, big “EUW!” from over here. (But no need to wait for the twitching to die down, as I have random motor tics anyway.)

    I can’t imagine shipping any sort of insect in a flat envelope of damp sand. Yon correspondent is absoblumenlutely bughouse.

    andrea

  5. I’m with raincoaster on this – what a ripoff! I view it as another example of how the current administration callously allows big business to screw the consumer.

  6. My initial reaction wasn’t “Ew”. It was more like, “Oh my GOD.” I like that he threw in some pubes for authenticity. Gah. That’s about the grossest thing I’ve ever heard.

  7. From New Jersey? It figures.

    “Sand is abrasive, and likely to crush anything else during transit in surface mail”
    “There was a hole in the envelope”

    You say they could have fallen out or been crushed.
    So, you can’t conclude from no finding that the site is “bullshit”.

    The weird thing is not that entophilia exists (any sex shrink can tell you its a real fetish), it’s that they put up a public web site over what is usually an extremely rare and closeted fetish. It’s the internet allowing the masses to gawk at the fringe like never before. Thanks, Bug Girl.

  8. GW, I conclude the site is bullshit from the earlier post, In which I posted in DETAIL why the claims they make about pubic lice are factually incorrect.

    I was willing to suspend my judgment pending examination of the actual lice, to see if their claims held up.

    They didn’t.

  9. What’s wrong with this country when you can’t find an honest person to sell you public lice through the mail anymore? Call the Better Business Bureau already!!!

  10. What upset me most was at one place you used public lice instead of pubic lice. Public pubic lice is not only hard to say but fills me with a desire to wash my eyeballs in alcohol!

    Regards,
    John

  11. I just don’t know what to say. So many things are running through my head. But what a great post Bug Girl. What a fascinating job you have.

    This post/story should be in a magazine somewhere. I’m still shaking my head.

  12. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

    Funniest…bug humor…ever. Real or not, that site is comedy gold. I know some people who will love this. Yeah, beadden, this post should be in a magazine.

    But I have to agree with GW, finding nothing isn’t dispositive especially when you say they could have fallen out or gotten ground up.

  13. Except Jimmy, that everything they say about pubic lice is in direct contradiction to what is accepted and observable fact.

    If they can’t cough up (scrape up?) any evidence, and send it in a way that seems doomed to failure–I think it’s safe to assume they are full of it.

  14. Frankly, I applaud this individual’s efforts to conserve the pubic louse. Pubic lice are in great danger of extinction, possibly due to the Brazilian reducing their natural habitat. No, this is not a joke.
    See here:

    http://sti.bmj.com/cgi/content/extract/82/3/265-a

    Why do we only worry about cute cuddly things facing extinction? It’s frankly speciest…

    I only think it a pity that no pubic lice were sent..

  15. That’s a correlation* study, Pollyanna, so no direct evidence, although I certainly think less hair helps!
    (and certainly the wax application itself would much kill whatever’s underneath it.
    There have still been cases reported when the person is shaved/waxed.

    (*Technically, the study distinguished between groups by Chi Square, but they only showed that there was a difference over time. They did NOT, however, have any data on the actual shaving practice of the people counted. They only showed the two practices coincided in time.)

    Also, I’m not ready to have hot wax spread on my privates and yanked off regularly as a preventative measure. OW.

  16. I am all for conserving the non-furry species but I draw the line at human parasites.

  17. It certainly does indicate it’s a scam; after all, if you paid for lice, you should get lice. I say get the Better Business Bureau in his pants!

  18. Go get popcorn everyonez.
    You know me… I’ve gotta dig and dig for more until I find more.
    I’ve been like you guys this whole time… scam scam BS – no way – scam.

    Folks, this shit is for realz.
    That hair that was in that envelope? That really is pubic hair. It was either his (his name is Matt) or his girlfriends pubic hair. They take the bugs off their own snatch and into the envelope. Snip snip. He lives ‘near’ New York. Goes to school ‘near’ Atlanta. A reporter from the UK interviewed a group of them re: fetishes. He drives a Beamer. There is a bunch of them into this. He charges the buck to cover postage and to weed out folks that aren’t really serious. But mail isn’t the only way they deliver their… package.

    Guys I am so not kiddin’. I wish I wuz!

  19. I found you through MetaFilter, and just wanted to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed reading through your blog. I’m only peripherally involved in entomology – I’m a hobby sericulturist (raising silkworms) and I’ve studied a lot of entomology related to them.

    Anyway – keep up the good work! If your blog changes, I hope there’s a way to find you!

  20. After reading both posts and the lovebugz.net site,
    I think these idiots really are breeding something in their briefs. Maybe it’s regular old pubic lice and they’re mistaking the bites for itchiness and mild irritation (you CAN live with lice your whole life like cavemen did do) or it’s possible that they’ve got some kind of large mite living off the dead skin cells. It’s a shame you couldn’t find anything Bug Girl, but I wouldn’t say that one null finding from a single poorly gathered and preserved sample rules anything out. It may close the book in your mind, but it is far from a certain conclusion in a scientific, legal, or journalistic sense.

  21. What does ground-up ringworm look like? Too bad tupperware isn’t autoclavable.

  22. It’s not unreasonable to demand a return of your dollar, or demand that they fulfill their contractual obligation by shipping the putative non-biting lice. Perhaps someone in the know ought to suggest a more foolproof shipping method and specify that it be used in the request.

    But seriously. Reading that site made me want to drench myself in Kwell. Ugh!

  23. Oh shit!

    Now I see what you meant. This is what happens when you dont keep up with the blog, you miss something like this!

  24. Hugh–they may have a mite, I don’t know.
    But they sure as heck don’t have non-blood feeding lice.
    And that is what I am saying is BS.

  25. that’s what they look more like, is mites. they look a lot like ticks. they show pics of them. some are x rated. I’m not a bug person so I’ve no idea what exactly they are. It seems that people are giving them to others that are unaware they are receiving them too. That’s one more thing to worry about. Wow, and I thought I was a freak. I’m absolutely boring.

  26. oh dear! this is one of the hilarious things i’ve ever read… the part about the student autoclaving herself really made me crack up with laughter! :D and the best thing is that everything’s true!

    great post!
    Marcello

  27. I really think they are serious after reading thier site …I think they are just crazy…not positive though but man some people really do go out on a limb.

    Quotes below
    You know I thought this was hilarious when I saw it at first but relized they were not joking. There are people out there for the non furry species

    Save the Guinea Worm Foundation

    http://www.deadlysins.com/guineaworm/index.htm

    Bug Girl
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 5:32 pm | Permalink
    That is messed up Ken. I hope it’s a hoax.

  28. That is completely insane.

    Even if he is just trying to make a buck, how lucrative can this be? Who is going to buy them? And at a dollar a piece, with him losing a clump of hair each time, is it really going to make him rich?

    Since the answer appears to be “no,” I am going to fall back on my original response: crazy.

  29. If Mr. Gross-Disgusting-Perv has smooth and well conditioned nether-hair, it means he’s probably shampooing it, so his, uh, livestock probably wouldn’t be present.

    The fact the he’s using sand, though, suggests deliberate deception, since it’s not a natural secretion of the human body and would have to be added to the sample deliberately. I’m afraid the days when you could trust your ecto-parasite purveyor have gone the way of the hula-hoop.

    By the way, if animal cells don’t have walls, what do they have?

  30. Both animal and plant cells have cell membranes, but only plant cells have cell walls, Andy.

    It’s like a corset for your cells, made of cellulose :)

  31. I have only come across this from another site.

    Did you get a refund of your $1?

    In the name of science would you consider travelling to Bugger & getting a sample in the Traditional way?

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