Appearance and Size Facts
- Reddish-brown in color
- Wingless, blood-sucking insects
- Bodies are laterally compressed (flattened side to side) permitting easy movement
- Long legs are well adapted for jumping
- Body is hard, polished, and covered with many hairs and short spines directed backward
- The mouthparts of an adult flea are adapted for sucking blood from a host
- Size: Small, at only about 1/6 inch long
Behavior and Habitat of Fleas
Fleas are parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts, which are normally humans or pets. They have powerful legs that enable them to jump approximately 7 inches vertically and 14 inches horizontally. The female flea lays tiny, white eggs loosely on the hairs, in the feathers, or in the habitat of the host. The eggs readily fall off the host onto the ground, floors, bedding, or furniture. Some fleas can lay 500 eggs over a period of several months. The adult Cat flea, unlike many other fleas, remains on the host, and requires a fresh blood meal in order to successfully reproduce. The Cat flea is the most frequently found species, even on dogs and other mammals. The Dog flea, however, is rarely seen in the United States and is more common in Europe. Fleas may attack a wide variety of warm blooded animals including dogs, humans, chickens, rabbits, squirrels, rats, and mice. They are most often brought into the home on pets from outside.
Signs of Infestation of Fleas
A common indication of flea activity would be pets that repeatedly scratch and groom themselves or bites on people that leave behind itchy bite marks. Another sign is flea dirt (the adult flea feces), which consisted of dried, digested blood from the host. The flea dirt looks similar to coarse ground black pepper and may be seen in areas where the animal host rests.
Tips for Prevention of Fleas
Ensure your home is clean: vacuum thoroughly, sweep and mop regularly, wash all bedding and linens on the hottest water temperature setting allowable, and clear the floor of debris. Additionally, make sure to take your pet to the veterinarian for a flea treatment.
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