We all hate fleas and try to keep away from them, but do we really know what they are? The most basic definition would be that they’re parasites that feed on blood. (Read more about what the top flea treatments for cats and dogs are here)
Usually they transport themselves onto mammals and remain there forever. There are more than 2000 types of fleas, but the most common one is the cat flea that lives on cats, dogs and humans.
1. Every flea goes through four stages in its life, it starts as an egg, then turns into a larva, into pupa and into a biting adult in the very end. One female flea can lay more than 2000 eggs in their lifetime. Fleas can remain in the pupa stage for up to 8 months if necessary. Before turning into adults, fleas wait for a suitable host and the right environmental conditions.
2. Fleas can’t fly, but they can jump really, really high. Actually, a flea can jump up to 8” vertically, which might not sound like a lot, but if you think about it it’s 150-200 times its own height. If people could jump that high, we’d be able to jump over a skyscraper.
3. Fleas are parasites that live by consuming the blood from their host (a cat, dog, other animal or human). One flea can live up to 100 days without any blood consumed, but one female flea can consume up to 15 times her own body weight in blood in a single day. Flea larva do not eat blood, they feed on skin, hair and adult flea waste.
4. Fleas are really small, they are typically between 1/16 and 1/8 of an inch in length when they are fully grown. For walking they use their 6 small legs, and their hind pair to jump.
5. Pets that become hosts for fleas may develop anemia, tapeworms or or intense bouts of itching (pruritus). Besides from that, some pets can also develop an allergy to flea saliva, which can cause additional irritations and itchiness.
6. Fleas in different stages of their lifecycle require different methods of killing. This makes them especially difficult to get rid of, but it means that when trying to free your pet from fleas, you should use different methods and approaches for more than 6 months, in order to make sure your problem is solved.
7. The body of a flea is able to withstand really difficult conditions. They have a hard outer coating which means they are very difficult to be crushed. Besides that, their small flat bodies can be easily guided through hair, feathers and animal fur.
8. Fleas lay eggs daily. One single flea can lay up to 50 eggs in a single day, and those are usually grouped in groups of 20 eggs.
Fleas can actually live more than 100 days without a meal! Obviously, these critters are really tough and can withstand and even thrive in different environments. We certainly need to pay more attention to fleas in our environment as they can cause our pets (and also, humans) to suffer from a range of diseases such as anemia in pets, intense itching causing scabs/sores from scratching and even tapeworm. Your pet might even be allergic to flea saliva itself, causing it to suffer from intense itching.