Do you have fleas?
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Fleas live and breed on your pets, Firstly treat your pet.
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Why are Fleas a pest?
Fleas are a domestic nuisance because they are a parasite that lives on the outer surface of mammals and birds. They need a host so that they can get a blood meal. Hosts that we notice that have fleas on them are commonly dogs and cats. Mammals such as rats and possums are also host for fleas. A flea will bite a mammal to get their food and they will have meals from a variety of hosts.
Flea eggs can lay dormant in unoccupied buildings and once a mammal host walks into the place it becomes alive with fleas. Fleas are not only a problem in domestic settings but can be annoying in the workplace. All environments can be affected by fleas e.g. houses, offices, factories, commercial premises.
Are there different types of Fleas?
Cat Flea (see image): is the most common flea and it is known to attack any mammal as a host.
Dog Flea: is not as common as the cat flea and it also will use any mammal as its host.
Human Flea: it is not found as often on humans due to the invention of the vacuum cleaner. It is now found more on rats, mice, dogs and pigs.
How big is a Flea population?
Whenever you see an adult flea crawling around on your pet, it is only a symptom of a much larger problem. Current studies have indicated that adult fleas account for only 5% of the total flea population. The flea population is as follows:
10% Pupa Cocoons
How do Fleas reproduce?
Fleas have a complete metamorphosis like a butterfly. Reproduction of the flea starts when the female laying 4-8 eggs after each blood meal. The female lays hundreds of eggs in her lifetime. The egg falls into the host's nest or immediate environment. The egg takes 2 to 14 days to hatch. When the larvae hatches they feed on the ground or in the host's bedding. It takes them 15 days to grow full size, then the larva pupates into a protective cocoon. The pupae can be in the cocoon for 18 days or over a year depending on when a host is in close proximity and they feel their vibrations. Once the adult comes out they will jump onto their host for a feed.
What do Fleas look like?
Adult Flea appearance: 1.5 to 4mm long. Their body has been flattened length ways, the surface has a hard texture and it is dark in colour. The shape and texture of their body allows them to move fast through the fur, hair or feathers of their host. Adult fleas have become wingless due to their environment overtime. Instead of wings they have long powerful legs and can jump long distances due to their hind legs being in 3 segmented parts. At the base of their six legs are claws to makes it easy to attach to their host. They like to explore their environment and don't always spend their time on the host but need the host to feed on. They can live for two months without needing to feed. When they do feed they have sharp pointed mouthparts that are apt at sucking.
Do Fleas carry diseases?
Yes, there is a health risk associated with fleas.
In Australia the main concern is the transfer of tapeworm larvae. Also the symptoms associated from the flea bite like being itchy. Fleas bites are found around the ankles and lower legs and some people are very sensitive to the bites. The flea bite can leave a lump, the lump can become a blister. The main problem is if the person constantly scratches, then it can become infected.
It is uncommon in Australia to get murine typhus and Australia does not have the bubonic plague. It is best to seek medical advice if you are not feeling well after being in contact with fleas.