It’s Time For Crab Larvae Or “Sea Lice”

Lot of sea lice complaints at the Delaware beaches

(July 20212) … It is that time of year again. people complaining about “sea lice” The question is are they actual sea lice or crab larvae (megalops).
Ten times out of ten this time of year it is the crab larvae. Sea lice reactions take longer to notice than the crab larvae. It is not an instant itch or sting, the crab larvae is immediate. There are “clouds” of these larvae off our coasts all the time in the summer. The sea lice are not actually sea lice, those are not in our waters.

Crab larvae are called megalops,  and are the final larval stage for crabs.  They are about a millimeter wide and have tiny claws (pincers), that is what causes the itching or irritation.  As they latch onto your skin and hold on tight.
These are also not the infamous beach chiggers of Cape Henlopen from last year (2017). The best solution is to bath or shower at a beach bathhouse or foot washing station before you head home. Please keep your bathing suit on when you use the foot washing stations, unlike that guy last weekend in Rehoboth.

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Sea Lice is more of an issue in our tropical waters (Florida), not so much in our waters in the north. Sea lice when they get on your skin and in your bathing suit, they cause a red, bumpy rash called seabather’s eruption. Crushing them releases the stinging sells, nematocysts. These all “fire” and cause the itch or sting. The larval stages of thimble jellyfish and a type of sea anemone called Edwardsiella lineata are sea lice. We don’t have these up here in Delaware.

What these sea lice look like when they are mature .. picture for attention.


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