Life cycle consists of two naupliar stages, followed by the infective copepodid stage, then four chalimus stages and two pre-adult stages on the host, before final molt into adult. Naupliar stages are non-feeding and depend solely on yolk; each lasts about 24 hours. Free-swimming copepodid stage can survive up to 10 days, but is most successful in finding a host in first 48 hours. On host, molts into first of four chalimus stages, characterized by possession of chitinous frontal filament, used to attach developing sealouse to host via anchor at tip that embeds in host skin. Fourth chalimus molts into first pre-adult, which is temporarily attached via frontal filament but later moves freely over host surface.

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