How much do you know about fleas? Most people know very little. However, if you have pets it is important to understand how to prevent flea infestations in your home. The more you know about fleas and their life cycle, the better able you will be to protect yourself and your pets from these pesky little bugs. Here are 10 helpful facts about fleas to help understand and prevent these pesky little insects.
- Adult fleas need a host to lay eggs. Almost any warm-blooded animal can become a host and fleas commonly are found on cats, dogs and other mammals as well as on birds.
- Fleas are relatively small and are typically between 1/16 and 1/8 inch in length when full grown. They do not have wings. Instead they use their 6 small legs to get around, and their hind pair to jump.
- Fleas are excellent jumpers. They can propel their bodies more 200 times their length. This allows them to easily move from host to host and into the surrounding environment.
- There are 4 stages to the flea lifecycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Fleas can remain in the pupa stage for up to 8 months if necessary. They wait until a suitable host is present and environmental conditions are right before becoming an adult. Environmental cues that trigger a pupa to emerge include vibration, heat, carbon dioxide, and warm, moist environments. This can make it very difficult to get rid of a flea infestation.
- Since fleas require different methods of killing during each life cycle phase it is best to use a variety of different methods in your flea control plan. Continue using any methods you choose for at least 6 months to ensure that the problem has been thoroughly treated.
- Fleas can cause a form of serious skin irritation known as flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). This condition is an allergic reaction to flea saliva and can manifest through symptoms of itching, redness, bumps and pus. In severe cases it can even cause hair loss in your pets.
- Fleas can remain in the pupa stage for several months. Often, when treating adult fleas on a pet, the owner may believe the problem to be gone, only to see a re-infestation weeks or months later because the treatment plan did not consider all of the stages of the flea life cycle.
- Adult fleas feed primarily on the blood of their host. Flea saliva can dissolve skin allowing fleas to use their special mouthpiece to obtain a meal. Flea larva do not eat blood yet. They feed on skin, hair and adult flea waste.
- Fleas lay eggs and a single adult can lay between 40 and 50 in a single day. These eggs are typically found in clumps of 20 oval eggs.
- Flea bodies are specially designed to be able to withstand difficult conditions. They have a hard outer coating which means that they are not easily crushed. Additionally they easily guide their small flat bodies through hair, feathers and animal fur.
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