Fleas on people? hmm. A flea is a small creature with no wings but is capable of jumping incredible heights. Although this creature lacks the ability to survive on its own, it is only capable of surviving as an external parasite on the body of mammals and birds.
Wait, did we just mention “mammals”? people are mammals! wow, now this is getting interesting. And did you know fleas can live for 2 weeks without feeding? wow, that’s a whole lot of days without food. Didn’t know this, did you? sure you didn’t (smiles).
We normally get calls and queries from people: hello, pestclue I think I’ve got a flea infestation in my home, or wait is it even a flea? I’m not so sure. Pestclue as an organization is set up to assist individuals to identify this pest, know more about them, and help get rid of them.
What do fleas look like? where do they live? what are they? what brings these uninvited guests to my home? are they dangerous? these and many more questions are what this info-filled article is set to answer.
We hope to give satisfying facts to our readers and ensure you leave with happiness in mind, and peradventure you’re asked: “hey, do fleas attack humans?” you’ll give a bold answer: Alas! it does/ it doesn’t. Well, we’ll know after reading this article.
What do I Need to Know About Fleas?
What business do fleas have with humans? Are fleas dangerous to people? Before getting to know answers to these questions, you should know little about them and have an oversight of their behaviors.
A flea is a small creature with no wings but is capable of jumping incredible heights. Although this creature lacks the ability to survive on its own, it is only capable of surviving as an external parasite on the body of mammals and birds.
Fleas belong to the order Siphonaptera and have an entire world population of 2,500 species on earth. They are small wingless creatures that survive as external parasites by feeding on the blood of their hosts be it birds or mammals. But are humans inclusive? get ready to find out as you read further.
Considering their body size, these insects will grow to about 0.13 inches in body length, they are usually brown in color and have flattened bodies which gives them the upper hand of slipping through the body of their hosts easily. Although these creatures are wingless, they have special body parts which enable them to adapt well to whatever conditions they face in the body of their hosts:
- Mouthpart for piercing and sucking blood from the body of the host.
- Strong claws for holding firm to the body of the host.
- Hind legs to enable them to jump high distances (They can jump 50 times their body lengths, wow! that’s a distance).
Fleas arose during the period when there was a relatively warm climate, resulting in high global sea-level change that created numerous shallow inland seas. This period lasted from about 144 to 65 million years ago, so you see no flea is your mate! (lol). Most fleas are selective of the host they feed on, but not all though. Below is a list of some flea species and the host they are most likely to feed on:
- The Ischnopsyllidae is found only on Bats.
- The Malacopsyllidae is situated only on the body of Armadillos.
- The Chimaeropsyllidae is found on small insectivorous mammals such as the Elephant Shrews.
Scientists believe that some species of fleas such as the rat fleas carry infectious bacterium which they pass into black rats which then spread these diseases to humans. A major outbreak termed “the Black Death” occurred and affected about half of the European population.
Read also: What Do Flea Bites on Humans Look Like?
Did You Know?
- Eggs: If you have a flea in your home then you sure are in for it, as a single female can lay up to 50 eggs in a day, in a week you can have about 250 eggs deposited in your home if care is not taken. Wow, that’s a whole lot of flea you’re raising there don’t you think.
- Hunger Period: Fleas can go for as long as 2 weeks without eating as research has shown that the pupae can stay in their cocoons for a whole year. Once they emerge as adults, they hurriedly try to find a blood meal.
You obviously wouldn’t want to keep these guys starving for such a long period of time as they will rain down your knees when you’re sighted. They can only lay eggs after feeding, so why not leave these treacherous insects hungry a little longer?
- Jumping Skills: These guys are one of the best jumpers in the world as they can jump a distance 50 times their body lengths. Guess what? these guys can jump 30,000 times without stopping! wait are you for real?
- Disease: Most species of fleas carry diseases that may be harmful to your pests at home and you as well. These guys were known to cause a great number of deaths to the European population between the years 1346 and 1353.
- Sighting and Hearing Abilities: Fleas unlike most insects lack the ability to see and hear. Wow, that’s so sad.
- Egg Laying Abilities: A single flea can lay up to 1,500 eggs in their lifetime.
- Even if fleas are left frozen for a year they can still revive themselves. Wow!
- Group Name: Just as a music band or associations have their collective names, these insects wouldn’t want to be left out. A group of fleas is referred to as a swarm.
Fleas are very interesting creatures and are incredibly fascinating but would you want these pests in your home? well, let’s find out.
With these brief facts, we believe you’ve gathered knowledge on what fleas look like? but we are more concerned with fleas on humans. Well, keep reading to discover more.
Behavior of Fleas
Just like other insects, the fleas have certain things they get attracted to, Blood! People often term them to be very dangerous because of their disease-carrying abilities, how bulgy they appear in size, and their piercing and sucking mouthparts, but are they really dangerous? well, keep reading to find out.
One thing’s certain, most insects do not deliberately bite humans or cause any damage to household properties or any wooden furniture they come across, but their feeding habit is what causes them to do so, or wait is that true? let’s find out!
What Should I Know About the Flea Diet?
The name flea is translated in Greek as a “wingless siphon (a tube used to convey blood upwards from the body of the host).” It really is a fitting name, considering that they are uniquely adapted to piercing the skin and sucking (extracting) blood.
Even though there is a great population of fleas in the world, they all have one major aim which is to Pierce and Suck Blood! Even though they are selective of their meals, most species of fleas will target mammals than birds. Are mammals that yummy? (smiles)
One amazing thing about these guys is that they are very successful and will not easily give up when searching for a suitable host. They have flat bodies that allow them to easily slide through the body of their host. Its mouthpart comprises of:
- The Epipharynx which serves as a siphon for sucking blood from the body of the host. The siphon here serves the same purpose a straw would serve.
- The Laciniae is a sharp part of the fleas mouthpart which helps in slicing the skin of the hosts’ skin. It surrounds the epipharynx.
All these mouthparts brought together forms the stylet.
And did you know that these parasites have advanced pumps placed in them by nature to enable them easily suck in blood from their hosts with their straw-like mouthparts? you obviously weren’t aware, but now you know.
Even though the mother flea lays her eggs on the body of the host animal, the offsprings would not hatch on the host as they will slide off the host’s body. The cohesive eggs slide off and hatch in the surrounding environment.
The fleas go through 4 stages of birth: the Egg->the Larvae->the Pupae->the Adult, and will feed based on their present stage. The Larvae feeds on organic waste (skin shed from the body of the host) and will form a silky thread to live in till they emerge as adults.
What do Fleas Eat?
If you’ve been following, you are probably aware that one thing fleas cannot live without is BLOOD! and their reproduction rate is affected as it will drop if there is no suitable host for the young and searching flea.
Fleas will feed on:
- Blood from mammals
- Skin cells that have been shed from a host’.
- A fellow adult flea’s poop.
So you see, these pests feed on a limited variety of food. Do not be deceived by this fact as adult females feed on blood as much as their body lengths, that surely is a whole lot of draining. But what we should be talking about is fleas on people, don’t you think? (smiles)
Read also: Rodents; 10 Superficial Facts About Rodents
Do Fleas have a Specific Blood they will Feed on?
The answer to this question is yes but not all species of fleas. In the world, there are over 2,500 species of fleas that are named based on the host they would prefer to attack. Below is a table showing some fleas and their preferred host:
|Flea Name||Preferred Host|
|Cat Flea (Ctenocephalides felis)||Cats, Humans & other domestic animals|
|Rabbit Flea||Only Rabbits|
|Dog Flea (Ctenocephalides canis)||Dog, Humans & other domestic animals|
Unlike most fleas, some fleas will find a substitute host (food source) if a suitable source is not available. An example of such fleas is the rat fleas (fleas that use rats as hosts), as they will feed on humans if there is an absence of a rat host.
You may view these pests as very small harmless creatures, but you should rethink that as these small insects can cause massive destruction to your health, and that of your pets as well.
What Eats Fleas?
There are only a few animals that get attracted to the fleas at a mere sight, and won’t they be happy to make these nasty insects a part of their menu. Even though these uninvited guests are very disastrous and may cause serious health implications to you, they also got predators that would happily add them to their diet.
Below is a list of predators that will feed on fleas:
- And the Spiders.
Where Do Fleas Live?
As mentioned earlier these pests feed mostly on the blood of their hosts, so they’ll obviously be found not far away. Below is a table showing where fleas live, and a brief explanation:
Where Do Fleas Live?
|1. Fleas in the Home||Flea Eggs: The eggs can be laid on your pets (especially cats) and spread in the carpets, beds, and furniture as well.
Flea Larvae: These are found on floors and carpet fibers.
Adult fleas: Adult fleas live on hosts such as cats, dogs, rodents, and other furry mammals.
|2. Outside the Home||Outside your homes fleas live on high grass, sand, sheds, and your yards as well-just places where they can find shade and humidity. These areas, such as the high grass, provide the flea with a suitable condition for all three stages of its life cycle.|
|3. On Your Dogs and Cats||These pests would mostly attack the neck, ears, and under the belly of your pests.
Fleas On People
Fleas indeed are very dangerous animals and you wouldn’t want to have a blood-sucking parasite hopping around your home. People often ask if these pests live on the body of people, what business do they even have with people?
It’s as simple as this: Fleas do not live on the body of humans / see it as a suitable habitat for reproduction and otherwise, but they only feed on people and go their way. However, there is only one specie of fleas that would live on humans, and that is the “human flea”.
The human flea will only feed on furless hosts such as people and pigs and are only encountered in the wild. So you see, they are not really much of a concern as they won’t always be encountered.
Having known all about fleas on people and what happens with fleas on people, you are now aware that fleas are very hazardous and cause a great deal of damage to human & pet life, you obviously wouldn’t want to have them around.
Well below are briefly stated points to be noted on flea infestation, and how to control them and prevent them as well.
How did I Get Fleas In my Home?
These uninvited guests will force themselves into your house when a food source (host) has been spotted. An infestation by these pests often comes as a result of a pet dog or cat in your home. They attach to the animal when it’s outside, and then infest its fur and the places it sleeps indoors. Preventing these guys from entering both the home and yard can be very difficult.
How do I Get Rid of Fleas?
- Use a vacuum cleaner to suck in flea eggs.
- Spray Insecticides everywhere including your yards.
- Regular inspections by experts.
- Contact your vets to come and check up on your pets in case of an infestation.
- Get rid of suitable hosts such as rodents to minimize the infestation rate.
There are a lot of mistakes people often make when it comes to nature such as the case of the flea and the grasshoppers. People often mistake the lovely grasshoppers to be fleas, they are not sure if its a flea or a bed bug, they are sometimes confused if these fleas are dangerous, or if they bite humans.
But luckily this article has been able to answer one of the most tackled facts on the internet, Fleas on people. After reading this article we’ve been able to give you the courage to say ” Alas! I know what a flea looks like.
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