About Pests: Flea Edition

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Fleas are classified as insects belonging to the pulicidae family. These pests can live on most warm blooded animals; however they seem to have a liking for rodents, dogs, human beings, opossums and cats. Flea infestation can be quite annoying especially when they are biting since they have features that make them hard to find or dislodge from their hiding place. The following are interesting facts about fleas:

Super jumpers

Although fleas have no wings they have long legs which are well adapted for jumping to amazing heights for their size. In order to achieve maximum height the flea squats down bends it back as well as legs thus concentrating strength in a part known as resilin. This works the same way as bow store energy when the string is pulled all the way back ready for the forward spring. Once the flea is ready to jump it snaps the legs straight just as a person lets go of the bowstring. Its body shoots out like an arrow out of the bow; this momentum carries the flea up to 7 inches high in a single jump and 13 inches horizontally. The height attained by the flea is equivalent to a human being jumping over two football fields at a go.

A highly specialized mouth for sucking blood

A flea has a mouth with parts that are specifically designed to suck blood from the host. The mouth has two laciniae which cuts a tiny slice in the skin; a sharp epipharynx drops from the centre of the laciniae. This needle-like epipharynx pokes a hole then acting like a straw slurps up the blood from the host.

Body adapted to hide from danger

Fleas have a flat body shape with fine hairs that point backwards. These are meant to assist the pest scoot among the feathers or hair of the host animal easily. This is one of the interesting facts about fleas that enable them to escape from danger even when detected. Whenever there is an attempt to grab the flea the little hairs protect it by assisting in digging into the surrounding animal hair thus effectively turning it into a live thistle burr.

Fleas undergo 4 stages in their life-cycle

An adult female lay between 40-50 eggs in a day after having a good blood meal from a host animal. She may lay about 2,000 eggs during her lifetime which is approximately 100 days. The eggs fall off the host and later hatch out into larva. At the larva stage they are completely blind, have moveable mouthparts but do not suck blood. In order to change into adult fleas the larvae go through pupa stage. Pupae can remain alive for several months without a meal unlike adults until they detect the right conditions in the environment where they emerge as biting adults.

Only a small percentage of flea population existing as biting adults

The percentage of feeding adults is only about 5 percent compared to 95 percent divided among the rest of the three stages of development. This means that effective flea eradication must put this into consideration so as to ensure that it lasts no less than 6 months to catch all the fleas in their various life stages. These are only a few facts about fleas which should serve as a guide when seeking to get rid of them effectively.

Written by Enzo Pavard

Enzo Pavard

Enzo Pavard is an expert in the destruction of harmful insects in Harlan, Kentucky He has 2 patents in rodent breeding and the owner of his cleaning company. He is married, has 2 children, and in his spare time he plays golf and is fond of archery.