Cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis)
Dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis)
Rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis)
Adult fleas are about 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch long, are dark reddish
brown, hard bodied, and flattened vertically, making it very easy to
move between hairs, feathers, or fur, depending on the host. A flea
can jump 7 inches vertically, and 13 inches horizontally. They have
spines protruding from their faces, and have piercing sucking mouth
parts. Eggs are smooth, oval and white. Larvae are 1/4-inch long,
slender, straw-colored, brown headed, wormlike, bristly-haired
creatures that are legless, have chewing mouthparts, are active,
and avoid light. Pupae are enclosed in silken cocoons covered with
particles of debris.
Biology and Habits:
Fleas go though a life cycle consisting of egg, larvae, pupae, and
adult, completion of this process varies from two weeks to eight
months. At all times a population of fleas contains about 50 percent
eggs, 35 percent larvae, 10 percent pupae and 5 percent adults.
The process begins after the female feeds off the host, she lays
about 15 to 20 eggs per day, and in one lifetime she can lay up to
Eggs are loosely laid in the coat of the host, and drop out most
anywhere especially where the host rests, sleeps or nests (rugs,
carpets, upholstered furniture, cat or dog boxes, kennels, sand
boxes, etc.) Eggs hatch in two days to two weeks into larvae found
indoors in floor cracks & crevices, along baseboards, under rug
edges and in furniture or beds. When eggs are laid outdoors they
are found in moist soil or sand, gravel, under the home, under
shrubs, mainly anywhere the host will rest or take cover. Sand and
gravel are very suitable for larval development which is the reason
fleas are erroneously called "sand fleas."
Larvae are blind, avoid light, pass through three larval instars and
take a week to several months to develop. Pupa mature to
adulthood within a silken cocoon woven by the larva to which pet
hair, carpet fiber, dust, grass cutting’s, and other debris adheres. In
about five to fourteen days adult fleas emerge.
Adult fleas cannot survive or lay eggs without a blood meal, but may
live from two months to one year without feeding. 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 (cocoon the larvae creates). The optimum temperatures for
the flea's life cycle are 70°F to 85°F and optimum humidity is 70
percent. The cat flea is the most common flea in Ontario which feeds
on a wide range of hosts.
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