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Fleas

Fleas are one of the more important groups of insect pests because they not only cause discomfort by biting, but can transmit several diseases such as plague and murine typhus. many different species such as the Cat flea, Dog flea, Human flea, and Rat flea can be found throughout the United States.

Biology

Females lay 4-8 eggs after each blood meal, laying some 400-500 during their lifetime. The eggs are not glued/stuck to the hairs or body but are deposited on or between hairs, or in the nest or bedding material. Hence, eggs deposited on the animal either fall or are shaken off, and are frequently found in cracks and crevices where pets sleep or frequent. Eggs are oval, whitish, and about 1/64″ long. They usually hatch in 1-12 days.

Flea larvae move about using the setal rings and abdominal struts/hooks. They have chewing mouth parts and feed on organic debris but almost all require dried fecal blood in order to complete development; they do not bite but feed on adult flea fecal blood. Larvae require high relative humidity and 1-2 weeks to several months to go through 3 instars. Last instar larvae spin a cocoon and incorporate surrounding debris on its surface which provides camouflage. Under favorable conditions, the pupal stage may last 4-14 days or maybe up to a year under harsh conditions. The pre-emerged adult remains in the cocoon for up to 20 weeks, where it is protected from adverse conditions, including pesticides; it can survive here for several months on stored body fat. Adults are stimulated to emerge from the cocoon by mechanical depression of the cocoon, an increase in temperature and/or carbon dioxide, and possibly vibrations. Larvae and pupae are typically found where an animal sleeps or frequents.

cat flea controlled by Expert Pest
cat flea
dog flea controlled by Expert Pest
Dog Flea
Human flea Controlled by Expert Pest
Human Flea
Rat Flea Controlled by Expert Pest
Rat Flea

Feeding Preferences

Adults usually begin to seek a blood meal on the second day after emergence. Once on a host, they tend to spend all of their time on the host, feeding, mating and laying eggs.

 Transmitted Diseases

Fleas are know to be vectors of the disease organisms causing both plague and murine typhus. Fleas can also serve as an intermediate host for the tapeworm.  These tapeworms occasionally infest humans, particularly

Habits

It is not necessary to have pets in the building in order to have fleas present. Since fleas can jump about 6″ vertically, they can easily hitch a ride on shoes, trousers, etc.

Many vacationers who may have been unaware of the few adult fleas present in their home, are often greeted and severely attacked by fleas upon their return. Fleas can be present even if the building has been vacant of animals and people for as long as 6 months. This situation can occur because of the potentially long pupal period, adults can live for months without food, and because fleas have not been removed via normal vacuuming. Also fleas are normally removed from the interior environment by taking up residence on the pets.

Fleas are typically found where animals sleep or frequent, including along their usual avenue of travel, because this is where eggs and adult fecal blood accumulate. Most larvae will be found in similar places but especially in areas with high moisture which is necessary for their survival. Pupae will be found in the same situations as larvae. Such places include both indoor and outdoor situations. Fleas are also found on other urban hosts such as rabbit, spotted skunk, opossum, occasionally rats, and cats.

Flea larvae die at relative humidities below 45% and above 95%, and hence, are rarely found outdoors in arid climates. Larvae fail to develop at temperatures below 55 F. and at or above 95 F.

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Category: fleas
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