Fleas are gross, annoying, and potentially harmful to your pet’s health. They are also quite fascinating. Fleas are very real threats to your pet. They love your pets. They live for your pets. In fact, if they choose your pets as a host, they can’t live without them. Once a flea has access to your pets’ bodies, they’ll be inseparable. Fleas will start reproducing. Before you know it, you’ll have a flea infestation in your home.
Have no doubts—fleas are your enemies and knowing your enemy is the best way to control them. Below are some strange, informative and disconcerting facts about these little creeps.
1. Fleas are wingless insects that get onto hosts by jumping.
2. Fleas have been on this planet for approximately 100 million years.
3. There are over 2,000 species and subspecies of fleas (that we know of).
4. In almost all species of fleas, the females are larger than the males.
5. In the continental United States, the Cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is responsible for nearly all of the fleas found on both cats and dogs.
6. If you find a flea on your cat or dog, there could be an infestation on your pets and around your home. Adult fleas are only a small percentage of the total population of a given infestation.
7. A female flea can consume 15 times its body weight (in blood) on a daily basis.
8. A female flea lays eggs within 35 to 48 hours of its first blood meal.
9. Flea eggs are usually laid directly on a host, often falling off the host’s body and spreading the infestation to the surrounding environment.
10. A female flea can lay about 2,000 eggs over the course of its life, but is incapable of laying eggs until after its first meal.
11. Once adult fleas emerge from their puparia, they have approximately 7 days to find a blood meal or they die.
12. Your average flea will have a 2 to 3 month lifespan.
13. If it doesn’t have to move around much, a flea can live anywhere between 2 months and 100 days between meals.
14. If they were human sized athletes participating in the long jump in the Olympics, certain fleas could break the current world record by approximately 970 feet.
The good news is that science has made tremendous strides to prevent and, when necessary, eradicate flea problems the past twenty years. These flea control protocols are much safer and less expensive then old procedures – dips, environmental foggers, etc… The key is to address all four stages of the flea life cycle: egg, larvae, pupae, and adult. Ask your veterinarian for details.
Dr. David Roy Hensen, DVM, DABVP has been a Veterinarian since 1983. He opened Paumanok Veterinary Hospital in 1992 and is board certified in the American Board of Veterinary Specialists, canine and feline.