Fleas - Blood
Adult Fleas feed by sucking the blood of their hosts (our dogs or
other animals). The larvae feed on tiny particles of organic waste
such as bits of hair, feathers and skin and even faces. Fleas
therefore only infest animals that have a nest site. This explains
why most rodents (rats, mice, etc.) have fleas but most ungulates
(cows, horses, deer, etc.) do not.
Fleas - Bubonic
Plague (Black Death) carrier
The flea was the carrier of Bubonic Plague otherwise known as the
Black Death transmitted by their hosts - rats. The species of flea
responsible was the Xenopsylla Cheopis or the Rat Flea. We
recommend the following link for the most comprehensive
information about the
Bubonic Plague in both the modern day and the Elizabethan era.
Fleas are light or dark brown small, wingless, external parasites
measuring between 0.2-1.2 mm. The body of the flea is divided into
three parts - the head, thorax, and abdomen. Attached to the
thorax are three pairs of legs for a total of six - the last pair
of legs are enlarged which give them their amazing jumping power.
As previously noted fleas can jump 150 times their body length and
80 times their own height! Fleas are alerted to new hosts by their
eyes and antennae which detect changes in light and shade, heat,
vibration and changes in air currents.
Adult Fleas live on the bodies of the host animal. The larvae live
in nests or bedding - the larvae are called detritivores which
feed on minute particles of discarded organic matter
Cycle of Fleas
All Fleas have four stages to their Life Cycle which can be
completed within 15 days - but the pupa can lay dormant before
emerging as an adult. Understanding the life-cycle is important so
that strategies for treatment and prevention can be designed and
Egg - Are white or cream and are laid on the host
where they might stay, or they may fall to the ground until they hatch
Larvae - feed on the faces left by the mother. The
larvae ( detritivores spins a cocoon - the pupa
Pupae - can lie dormant for some considerable time
Adult - has a maximum life span of about 18 months
but generally only live for 2-3 months.