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Facts About Fleas

Madhura Panse
Fleas bug! And, not just you, they bug your pet immensely too! Given to being parasitic by physiological nature, fleas feed on blood. They live in the thick hair of your pets and mammals, in carpets and on sofas too.

A Couple of Fun Flea Facts

● There is a tribe in Borneo, Indonesia, where if a man is caught picking fleas from the hair of a woman married to another man, he can be fined one pig.
● The 'ukulele' is quite a famous instrument worldwide. It was so named in 1878 after a Portuguese sailor arrived in Hawaii bearing a braguinha - almost a bonsai guitar. As he played, the locals thought his fingers as nimble and quick as dancing fleas, or in the Hawaiian language, uku which means 'dancing' and lele which means 'flea'.

Some Interesting Flea Facts

● Fleas have lived longer than humans have, since about 100 million years as flea fossils that were found, date back to the Cretaceous period.
● There are over 2,300 different species of fleas, 95% of which live on mammals and 50% on birds.
● Fleas come in various sizes, the smallest being as small as 2.5 mm long, whilst a heavily pregnant flea can go up to 4 mm or so. In all flea species, females are larger than their male counterparts.
● Fleas usually prefer hiding in the hair of mammals. As humans have little hair, it is highly unlikely that a flea is going to feel right at home on a human body, unless of course you're as hairy as a furry bear.
● Just as flea-collars are toxic to the fleas, they aren't too different towards your pet.
● A flea on an average lives up to 2 to 3 months.
● A flea can jump a staggering 150 times its own size, 30,000 times in a row, without stopping. It's probably not even aware of how little it is.
● They haven't any wings, but their legs are structured in such a way that they act quite like a hunting bow. The flea bends its hind legs and squats down, storing quite a considerable amount of energy in a part called resilin. Imagine a bow being stretched by its string and pulled back, which is very similar to the way a flea's mechanism is of jumping high.
When it needs to jump, it simply snaps its leg straight, letting go of the bow-string and shooting out like an arrow, up to 13 inches vertically and 7 inches horizontally. If you could jump the way a flea does, you'd be leaping over two football fields at once!
● One little flea can multiply up to a thousand times on your dear pet and in your house in the span of hardly 3 weeks.
● The warmer the weather, the more active the fleas become, reproducing at a higher speed. However, temperatures below 65ºC and humidity slow down the flea's growth.

Some Additional Facts

● In her entire life span, a female flea is capable of laying 2,000 eggs. The adult female flea can bite up to 400 times in the span of a day and lays 50 eggs on her unsuspecting and irately itchy host, usually 20 oval ones a clump, each as minuscule as a grain of sand.
So, if you take into consideration 10 fleas on your pet, they're capable of producing 3,500 eggs within a week. These eggs, very quickly, become adult fleas.
● Female fleas eat blood up to 15 times her own body weight. Yes, they're bloody greedy! Fleas can live without having blood for 100 days. A female needs a blood meal to lay her eggs, and she lays eggs within 36-48 hours of having the first blood meal.
● A silky sticky cocoon is produced by mature larvae. It soon becomes coated with debris from its surroundings, helping it camouflage.This stage can last anywhere from 9 days to 175 days.
When the cocoon is stimulated by heat, vibrations and carbon dioxide that we exhale, an adult flea emerges from the cocoon (almost sounds like some rubbish Sci-Fi movie from the 80s).
● Flea larvae are blind and are scavengers with movable mouth parts. They usually feed on adult flea fecal matter, sloughed or dead skin cells, hair, feathers and other organic matter.
● Fleas inject pets with their saliva, causing a lot of irritation, itching and allergies. Cats, in particular, are more susceptible to flea allergy dermatitis, due to which they often get scabs on the base of their tail and sometimes, the entire body.
● Fleas are capable of spreading dreadful diseases like plague, murine typhus and tapeworms.