Scratching the Surface: Facts about Fleas
- There are more than 2,000 species of fleas worldwide.
- In the US the most common flea is the “cat flea.”
- The cat flea is found on both cats and dogs.
- Largest breed of fleas are found on beavers and can be up to 1/3 inch in length.
- Common myth that fleas jump from host to host.
- Can remain on one host for more than 150 days (if untreated).
- Locate their host by visual and thermal cues.
- 83% of fleas develop around the base of carpets or rugs in homes.
- Fleas can jump 8 inches high or 150x its own height.
- The power from a flea jump is roughly equal to that of a space rocket.
- Depending on the temperature and humidity, the flea life cycle can be as short as 14 days or as long as a year.
Fleas go through 4 life stages
-found in the environment
-can hatch within 1 second of being stimulated
-in ideal conditions eggs can last up to a year
-account for 50% of the flea population within an environment
-hatch from eggs in 1-10 days
-crawl around in the environment and/or host
-get a substantial amount of required nutrients by feeding on the feces of adult fleas
-cannibalistic and will consume egg remnants as well as other larvae
– after 5-11 days they will cocoon and pupate
-account for 35% of the flea population within an environment
-occurs while in a cocoon state
-pupae cocoons do not act as a insecticide barrier
-pupae cocoons can survive for up to 6 months
-account for 10% of the flea population within an environment
-3 seconds after emerging from the cocoon the adult flea is jumping and can start feeding
-a freshly emerged hungry adult flea can jump 40,000 times without a break
-unfed adults can survive 1-3 weeks after they emerged
-adults have a hard outer coating, 6 legs and can grow between 1/6 and 1/8 inches
-only account for 5% of the flea population within an environment
Adult fleas can bite up to 400 times in the first day.
- Female fleas can increase their body weight by 140% within the first 48 hours (male increase by 19%).
- Just 70 female adult fleas can cause up to 1ml of blood loss daily.
- Mating first occurs about 8 hours after the first feeding and egg production/laying starts within 24-48 hours.
- Can produce 40-50 eggs per day or up to 2,200 eggs in a lifetime.
- A pair of fleas within 9 months can produce up to 2 TRILLION descendants.
- Flea saliva is highly antigenic and contains a variety of histamines-like enzymes.
- Flea can be hard to spot on pets due to self-grooming, chewing and scratching.
- Cats are often the hardest to see fleas on due to their grooming nature (one study showed that 50% of fleas placed on a cat were recovered in the cat’s feces).
And one last itchingly cool fact:
The ukulele means “dancing flea” in Hawaiian. In 1878 a Portuguese sailor played a small guitar-like instrument for the Hawaiian natives. The natives thought that his fingers were as nimble as dancing fleas.