Flea Facts Overview

Everybody knows fleas can be a nuisance, both to humans and their pets. But what are the common flea facts, and which of them are true? First of all, fleas are one of the most common types of pest to trouble your pet. They are small, wingless and jumpy and feed exclusively on blood. While they can suck human blood, fleas usually nest on animals since their fur provides them with a comfy environment where they can reproduce out of sight. Naturally, a flea infestation means the situation is getting worse. Since fleas have a long, 4-stage life cycle, the problem first started at least a few weeks ago if you notice them frequently. The standard scientific name for fleas is Siphonaptera, which derives from the Greek words for “pipe” and “wingless”, which perfectly describes fleas. They have a tube-like sucking mouthpart, just like a bed bug, and they don’t have wings. Unfortunately, the lack of wings does not stop fleas from jumping spaces over 30 times their size when they need food. The most ubiquitous type of flea to bother pets worldwide is the cat flea(Ctenocephalides felis). Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t prefer just cats, but any furry, warm-blooded pets in general.

Flea Life Cycle

A flea’s life cycle can take up to a couple of months. It consists of four stages: egg, larvae, pupae and adult flea. After a female flea lays her eggs, they can take up to two weeks to develop, depending on the environment’s ambient temperature and humidity levels. Once the eggs hatch, larvae come out. Flea larvae are blind, so they avoid staying out in the light and spend their first few weeks feeding on pre-digested blood(flea “dirt”). Up to 20 days after a larva hatched, it will form a cocoon around itself to morph into a pupa. The pupae stage is the last stage a flea goes through before it becomes an adult. The beginning and the end of this stage require favourable conditions, which is why the stage can last for months. If the environment’s temperature or humidity isn’t right, the cocoon will protect the pupa inside for months until it is safe to come out. As soon as the cocoon hatches, the flea inside will start looking for a meal. Shortly after their first meal, fleas start mating, but the first eggs come after a few days. On top of that, a female flea cannot lay eggs until it had its first nourishing blood meal.

Common flea facts and myths:

  • Fleas have excellent jumping skills
Fleas can leap a distance of 50 times their own body length.
  • Myth: Garlic helps prevent fleas
There is no definitive proof that garlic helps kill fleas. On top of that, feeding garlic to your pets can be harmful. It can lead to severe anaemia and intestinal problems.
  • Can fleas see?
Adult fleas only develop basic eyesight, which helps them detect changes in light, but they mostly rely on their other senses to locate their food sources.
  • Myth: Orange rubs stop fleas
Rubbing your pet’s stomach and back with an orange peel might look like a good idea because citrus peels contain linalool - a chemical that is used in insect repellents. However, raw fruits don’t contain enough linalool to stop fleas actively.

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