Knowing what are fleas and how they behave is very important if you want to get rid of them from your animals and your house. Fleas are wingless insect that cannot fly but have the ability to jump large distances. This allows them to move around from place to place and host to host very easily. Since they are external parasites and they feed on blood, fleas’ primary target are animals, especially birds and mammals such as dogs, cats and humans.
Fleas prefer warm climates and humid environments to live and reproduce. This is because humidity and moisture are two conditions necessary for their eggs to hatch. A single female can consume about 15 times its body weight and can lay 40 to 50 eggs each day. This means that in an entire lifetime they can lay up to 2,000 eggs. Looking at this number you can understand how easily is to have an infestation if there are fleas on your animals or inside your house. If the environmental condition are good enough, sometimes fleas can survive even without a host.
What do fleas look like?
Fleas are small insects approximately 2.5 mm long and have a reddish-brown color. Their bodies is very flattened and even if they are visible to the naked eye, they can be very hard to find and catch. Before they will reach their final form, the adult stage, they will go trough other 3 main stages: egg, larva and pupa. The flea life cycle takes from two weeks to eight months to be completed, depending on the environmental condition they are living in.
Even if they are classified as different species, all types of fleas are very similar to each other and it can be difficult sometimes to differentiate them. This happens also because for example, the type which is supposed to attack cats, can be found on either dogs or humans. For this reason, let’s see the most common types in details:
Dog fleas – They are also known with their scientific name Ctenocephalides canis. A dog flea has a dark red color and is differentiated from other types because it has combs around the mouth and head. Despite their name, dog fleas are able to infest other animals.
Cat fleas – Their scientific name is Ctenocephalides felis. Cat fleas are dark in color, usually black or brown. They are more common than dog fleas, because they are more resistant to flea repellents. They are usually infesting cats but can be found on other animals as well.
Human fleas – This particular type is also known as Pulex irritans. They are 2-3 mm long and they color is dark brown. Today they are quite rare in the cities but you can find them very easily in the countryside especially where there are farm animals.
Where do fleas come from?
Usually, summer is the period when flea infestations happen more frequently. This is because, fleas love hot and humid weathers to settle in, live and reproduce. A flea life cycle is much faster when all these conditions are met and summer is the perfect time. Flea infestations are less frequent during winters but they are still possible, particularly inside the house. Carpets, pillowcases, curtains, moquette, couches and beds are the places where they commonly hide and you are going to find them.
In the case you have pets or a garden in your house having a flea infestation can be very common. Domestic animals are the perfect host and plants in your garden or in your house are very good places where fleas can hide. If you have pets, you should check them regularly because as soon as they get infested, you are going to have fleas everywhere, especially if you let your pets inside the house.
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