Facts about fleas

15 fleas facts

External parasites

Fleas are one of the most hated insects by pet owners. Once they find their way onto a dog or a cat, they are very hard to remove. Reproducing at a very high rate, they establish a colony fast and require an imminent eradication.
Fleas are parasitic insects of mammals and birds.
There are 2,500 known flea species.
New species are being continuously identified.

Adult flea reaches an average of 3 millimeters in length.
Fleas are holometabolous.
They undergo all four stages throughout their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult (called imago).
A flea needs blood to survive.
They need to find a suitable host within seven days, otherwise, they perish.
Fleas can jump over 30 centimeters high.
Fleas carry various diseases.
They include murine typhus, tapeworms, mycoplasma haemofelis, and cat scratch disease. The disease is transmitted by leaving small samples of saliva on the host body.
They can lift objects 150 times heavier than their body weight.
Their average lifespan varies on the conditions of the environment.
Typically, an adult flea lives for two to three months. Given proper food supply, however, they can exceed their lifespan to a year and a half. The flea that underwent complete metamorphosis has approximately a week to find a host, otherwise, it dies.
They lay eggs on a host.
Larvae hatched from eggs feed on organic matter and eventually pupate in order to undergo metamorphosis into an adult fleas. It happens eggs fell off the host, thus spreading further. An adult flea can lay up to 20,000 eggs in its lifetime.
An average female adult flea can lay between 40 and 50 eggs a day.
Fleas can remain dormant in pupae for months.
Fleas prefer high-humidity environments.
They are adjusted to temperature fluctuation of 21 to 30 degrees Celsius, and the humidity of no less than 70%.
In the Middle Ages, fleas were associated with Black Death.
They carried a bacterium called Yersinia pestis, which they transferred onto humans once the population of rodents decreased, and spread it in Europe and Asia. The plague killed tens of millions of people.
Fleas have been known since the Mesozoic era (some 165 mya).
Dinosaur fossils containing two flea species, Pseudopulex jurassicus, and Pseudopulex magnus, were found in China and Mongolia. Although they lacked the ability to jump, their mouthparts were capable of penetrating dinosaur skin.
Fleas are successful acrobats.
The first mention of a flea circus dates back to 1578, and a watchmaker Mark Scaliot, who created a miniature golden chain with a lock, that could be pulled by a flea. However, throughout the next two hundred years, fleas were a background for skilled craftsmen. In the 19th century, in 1812 to be precise, Goldsmith Johann Heinrich Deggeller performed with his flea circus. Since then, fleas became popular acrobats, and the idea of a flea circus conquered the entertainment industry. A flea trainer would wrap a golden harness around the flea’s neck, and attach it to various objects, such as carriages. Sometimes, fleas were glued to props, and the circus heated, so the flea would try to escape, and its movement would look like it played an instrument.

Nowadays, it is not as common and popular as it used to be, most living acrobats were swapped with mechanical, electrical, and magnetic devices.
Hungry for more facts?

Related content