ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Life Sciences

Fleas

Updated on June 8, 2009

The typical flea is usually less than one-eighth of an inch long. Its smooth body is covered with a hard outer skeleton, and extending along the back are several rows of backward-pointing bristles and spines. Unlike the bodies of most insects, the flea's body is flattened from side to side, enabling it to move easily and quickly through hair or feathers. Fleas can leap long distances because of their strong slender legs. Some fleas, for example, can jump higher than 7 inches and farther than 13 inches.

An otter having a scratch.
An otter having a scratch.

A flea is any of a large group of small wingless insects that feed on the blood of many warm-blooded animals.

Fleas are common throughout the world, but they are particularly numerous in tropical regions. In addition to being annoying pests, some fleas can transmit disease.

Usually each kind of flea attacks only one kind of animal. If the usual hosts are not available, however, most fleas readily attack other animals. For example, the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) also attacks dogs, man, and rodents, and the human flea (Pulex irri-tans} often attacks pigs. Only adult fleas suck blood. Although they usually feed once a day, some, such as the human flea, can live for several months without eating. Most fleas leave their host after feeding and live in the host's nest or surroundings. Later they again attack the same host or find another. However, some fleas remain attached to their host. For example, stick-tight fleas (Echidnophaga gallinacea) often gather in clusters on the heads of chickens, cats, and dogs.

Some fleas can transmit serious diseases to man. The oriental rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) is the chief carrier of the bacteria that cause bubonic plague, an infectious and often fatal disease. The cat flea, which also attacks other animals, can infect man with a tapeworm common in cats and dogs. The chigoe (Tunga penetrans), also known as the sand flea, often burrows under the skin, causing serious ulcers.

Like many other parasites of warm-blooded animals, fleas reproduce throughout the year. Their small oval white eggs are deposited on the host, in the host's nest, or on the ground. In 2 to 14 days the eggs hatch into larvae, slender white animals without legs and eyes. The larvae feed on the wastes of adult fleas and other animals until they are fully grown. Each larva then spins a silken cocoon in which it pupates. The adult flea emerges from a week to several months later. Fleas live longer than most insects. Some species, such as the human flea, live 2 or more years.

Fleas are often found in barns, stables, chicken coops, and other places where animals are kept. Sometimes they are also brought into homes by cats, dogs, and other pets. Once a home or a pet is infested with fleas, anyone living in the house or coming in contact with the pet may also be attacked. One method of ridding an animal of fleas is to dust it with a commercial flea powder. Fleas can usually be eliminated from houses by spraying basements, floors, and rugs with a kerosene emulsion or an oil base spray.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)