Pest Library Entry:
Common Pest Species:
Human Flea (Pulex irritans)
Dog Flea (Ctenocephalides canis)
Cat Flea (Ctenocephalides felis)
Oriental Rat Flea (Xenopsylla cheopis)
Active Times: Day/Night (24/7)
Fleas are parasitic organism closely related to flies. They feed on hosts such as people, dogs, and cats to and bite them to obtain blood for use in reproducing. Adult fleas depending on the species are anywhere from 0.04 to 0.15 inches long. You are more likely to recognize a flea not by seeing them but by the tell tale signs of bites on your body or the excessive itching and scratching of pets in one area of their body in reaction to fleas.
Fleas are flightless but have long powerful legs which make them great jumpers moving onto a host, host to host, or along the body of a host. Their bodies are flat on their sides giving them a squashed appearance and are hard which aids them in being resilient at surviving being squashed and/or crushed. They are generally well adapted to surviving in the same environments as their hosts, and since most hosts of flea species besides humans are domesticated pets; fleas prone to prey on certain species can be transmitted to another.
Treatment for fleas on pets is hard since certain brands of insects that directly treat an animal such as a dog may be harmful in the same household for cats. This is further complicated by certain products being used only for certain points of the lifecycle of the flea such as eggs, adults, or pupae. The entire environment must be treated regardless if the pest is a human flea, cat flea, or dog flea. This generally entails heavy and constant vacuuming of the home which has been shown in studies to heavily reduce the numbers of eggs in a home. Heavily re-washing linens/bedding, airing out the house, and treating the back and front yards as well as pet beds that pets use is also a requirement to ensure elimination of fleas within a household.
Fleas reproduce exceptionally fast and in large numbers. Since they are a parasitic species, the host plays a huge role in providing a blood meal required by females of the species to reproduce. Many species of flea have their entire life cycle average 2-3 weeks total with one female being capable of producing thousands of eggs in her adult stage in that time period. Unlike lice, eggs are shed off of the host into the environment, where they then hatch to re-infest the same host or spread to others in the environment. Large numbers produced during quick lifecycles are a main reason flea infestations are so problematic to treat.
Diet: Blood from Hosts
Diseases: Bubonic Plague (Rare), Cat-Scratch Fever