By I-Hsien Sherwood | ( | First Posted: Jan 14, 2013 02:10 PM EST

Miss Slovak Republic 2011 Dagmar Kolesarova (L-R), Miss Nicaragua 2011 Adriana Dom, Miss Kazakhstan 2011 Valeriya Aleinikova, Miss Mexico 2011 Karin Ontiveros, Miss Honduras 2011 Keilyn Gomez and Miss Aruba 2011 Gillain Berry pose at the beach in Guaruja in this August 30, 2011 publicity photo. (Photo : Reuters)

Thanks to well-maintained bikini lines, "crabs," also known as pubic lice, are becoming an endangered species.

"Waning infestations of the bloodsuckers have been linked by doctors to pubic depilation, especially a technique popularized in the 1990s by a Manhattan salon run by seven Brazilian sisters," reported Bloomberg News.

"More than 80 percent of college students in the U.S. remove all or some of their pubic hair -- part of a trend that's increasing in western countries. In Australia, Sydney's main sexual health clinic hasn't seen a woman with pubic lice since 2008 and male cases have fallen 80 percent from about 100 a decade ago."

Lice live and lay eggs on human hairs, so smooth skin eradicates their habitat.

"Pubic grooming has led to a severe depletion of the crab louse populations," said Ian F. Burgess, a medical entomologist with Insect Research & Development. "Add to that other aspects of body hair depilation, and you can see an environmental disaster in the making for this species."

No one is sad to see them go.

Lice can thrive anywhere there is hair: the head, armpits, chests and back of men, and the groin. They cause itchiness and redness, and they feed on their host's blood, biting and sucking the fluid out through the skin.

Lice used to be a common problem decades ago and treatments were often dangerous, including using harmful pesticides like DDT, which is now banned. The word "lousy" used to mean "covered with lice," whose singular form is "louse."

"Incidence data aren't kept by the World Health Organization in Geneva because the gray, six-legged, millimeter-long louse doesn't transmit disease, and national authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and U.K.'s Health Protection Agency don't collect the information," said Bloomberg, so it's difficult to know exactly how much the pubic lice population has decreased.

But as anecdotal evidence piles up, it may be that, like leprosy, they're one of those ancient scourges that has a rather simple cure: cleanliness.

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