Fleas

Fleas

Fleas are small, blood-sucking, parasitic insects that have reddish-brown bodies and about ⅛ mm in length.  Their bodies are narrow with long claws on all of their six legs. You may have heard of the term “flea circus”, but there is nothing circus-like with their presence in your homes.  If you have heard about the black plague, the fleas caused it.

About the fleas

Fleas live by feeding on blood from their hosts, or hematology.  Their hosts are either birds or mammals. The adult fleas grow about 3 mm  long, brown in color, and their bodies are flattened sideways. Their body shape enables them to move through their hosts’ feathers or fur.  Though they do not have wings, they are excellent jumpers and that skill enables them to jump from one host to another. They have great legs really designed for jumping – only the froghoppers can jump higher – and mouth parts designed for sucking blood.

Flea life cycle

The life cycle of a flea has four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.  

The flea egg takes around two days to hatch.  An adult female can lay as much as 40 eggs a day.  The female adult lays her eggs on her host, most probably your pet, but these would fall off from the host, and the eggs will hatch on different parts of your house.  After the eggs hatch, it becomes a larva. They are tiny and look like worms. This stage lasts for 5 days. It then gets into a cocoon, until they sense a host and then they become adult fleas.  

A fully developed flea will only emerge from the cocoon once it has a host it can jump on.  A female flea, once it had its first blood meal, can lay eggs after 1 to 2 days of that meal.  After laying the eggs, then the whole cycle begins again.

Ways to get fleas

Fleas lay eggs wherever your pets usually go to: in your garden, or on your carpet and furniture.  Outdoors, they like to stay in shady, protected areas, basically, the places where your most likely stays.  

Control

  1. Vacuum your carpets, rugs, and furniture regularly.  Set your vacuum cleaner to the highest setting, and your brush to its most powerful.  After vacuuming, remember to throw away the contents into a bag. Throw away the bag as it may contain the pupae.  Dispose of it accordingly.
  2. Sweep the wooden floors and tiles. Keep your house clean.
  3. Your pet’s beds should be washed regularly.  Wash bedding with hot, soapy water. This will kill the fleas.  
  4. Use a flea comb. This can be an effective way to remove fleas from your dog or cat.  When using a flea comb, bring with you a cup of soapy water, and do this outside the house.  Dip the fleas into the soapy water to drown them.

These tips will help you prevent fleas from disturbing you, your family, and your pet’s daily lives.