Parasites: Flea Facts
Fleas are small, wingless ectoparasites, just a few millimetres long with hind legs modified for jumping.
- They have a lifecycle of four stages – The four stages are egg, larva, pupa and adult. The adult flea will lay eggs on a host animal which will fall off into the environment. Eggs will then hatch within the environment into the larvae stage. The larvae stage will continue to feed and develop in the environment into the pupae stage. The pupae stay will then emerge into the adult flea which will seek an animal host for a blood meal and the life cycle repeats. If the life cycle has a warmer environment, the faster the life cycle will be.
- A flea infestation cannot be eradicated by treating your pet alone – as mentioned most of the life cycle of a flea happens in the environment and therefore not on your pet. If you see an adult flea on your pet, it is likely that that flea has hatched within your home environment e.g. carpet, in between floor boards or even in your car. It is recommended to treat your pet with a suitable ectoparasite treatment, in addition to a insecticide environmental spray. You will also need to wash bedding, clothes on a hot wash and hoover regularly to help eradicate the infestation.
- Fleas can survive without eating for some time – some research suggests that the pupae stage can survive within colder environments for up to a year. After an adult flea has had a blood meal, it is suggested that they can survive without another blood meal for around 2 weeks.
- A female flea can lay up to around 50 eggs per day – for this reason if you think you may have a flea infestation you need to act fast to minimise the situation worsening.
- Indoor-only pets can get fleas too – yes in most scenarios we would expect an indoor-only animal to have a lower exposure to fleas however you need to consider that fleas can be easily transported from one place to another, e.g. by owner’s clothing and footwear. Therefore they can still be brought into a household and start their life cycle within an indoor-only pet’s household so it is just as important to treat our indoor-only pets as well as animals that have access to outside.
- Fleas can transmit other parasites – fleas are also capable of transmitting other parasites to their hosts such as tapeworm.
- Flea infestations can cause other complications – in cases of severe infestations, fleas can consume the host’s blood in large quantities causing flea anaemia making the host very ill.
- Animals can be allergy to fleas – in some animals they may suffer from a condition called flea allergy dermatitis where the host is allergic to the flea’s saliva, typically causing severe skin issues and if left untreated can be extremely uncomfortable.
Tags: facts, Fleas, life cycle