Flea Control

Fleas

Flea

  • Fleas are wingless insects (1.5 to 3.3 mm) long) that are agile, usually dark coloured (for example, the reddish-brown of the cat flea), with tube-like mouth-parts adapted to feeding on the blood of their hosts.
  • Their legs are long, the hind pair well adapted for jumping: a flea can jump vertically up to (18 cm) and horizontally up to  (33 cm),making the flea one of the best jumpers of all known animals (relative to body size).
  • If humans had the jumping power of a flea, a 1.8 m  person could make a jump 90 m long and 49 m  high.

Life cycle and habitat

Life

  • Fleas are holometabolous insects, going through the four life cycle stages of egg, larva, pupa, and imago.
  • Adult fleas must feed on blood before they can become capable of reproduction.
  • Fleas populations are evenly distributed, with about 50% eggs, 35% larvae, 10% pupae, and 5% adults.

Eggs

eggs

  • The flea life cycle begins when the female lays after feeding.
  • Eggs are laid in batches of up to 20 or so, usually on the host itself, which means that the eggs can easily roll onto the ground.
  • Because of this, areas where the host rests and sleeps become one of the primary habitats of eggs and developing fleas.
  • The eggs take around two days to two weeks to hatch.

LARVAE

larvae

  • Flea larvae emerge from the eggs to feed on any available organic material such as dead insects, faeces, and vegetable matter.
  •   Blood only diets allow only 12% of larvae to mature, whereas blood and yeast or dog chow diets allow almost all larvae to mature
  • .[7] They are blind and avoid sunlight, keeping to dark places like sand, cracks and crevices, and bedding.

Pupae

  • Given an adequate supply of food, larvae will pupate and weave silken cocoons within 1–2 weeks after 3 larval stages.
  • After another week or two, the adult fleas are fully developed and ready to emerge.
  • They may remain resting during this period until they receive a signal that a host is near – vibrations (including sound), heat, and carbon dioxide are all stimuli indicating the probable presence of a host.
  • Fleas are known to overwinter in the larval or pupal stages.

Adult flea

  • Once the flea reaches adulthood, its primary goal is to find blood and then to reproduce.
  • Its total life span can be as short as one year, but may be several years in ideal conditions.
  • Female fleas can lay 5000 or more eggs over their life, allowing for phenomenal growth rates. Average 30–90 days.
  • A flea might live a year and a half under ideal conditions.
  • These include the right temperature, food supply, and humidity.
  • Generally speaking, an adult flea only lives for 2 or 3 months. Without a host for food a flea’s life might be as short as a few days.
  • With ample food supply, the adult flea will often live up to 100 days.
  • Newly emerged adult fleas live only about one week if a blood meal is not obtained. However, completely developed adult fleas can live for several months without eating, so long as they do not emerge from their puparia.
  • Optimum temperatures for the flea’s life cycle are 21 °C to 30 °C  and optimum humidity is 70%.
  • Adult female rabbit fleas, Spilopsyllus cuniculi, can detect the changing levels of cortisol and corticosterone hormones in the rabbit’s blood that indicate it is getting close to giving birth.
  • This triggers sexual maturity in the fleas and they start producing eggs.
  • As soon as the baby rabbits are born, the fleas make their way down to them and once on board they start feeding, mating, and laying eggs.
  • After 12 days, the adult fleas make their way back to the mother.
  • They complete this mini-migration every time she gives birth.

 

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