Fleas are familiar small, wingless insects measuring around three millimetres in length.
Adult fleas survive by feeding on the blood of animals like our family pet. Although they don’t have wings, they have adapted to jumping and can jump 50 times their body length, which assists them in reaching their host pet.
There are four stages of the flea life cycle:
- The adult flea – their aim is to find a meal (the blood of its host) and to reproduce. The female will start to lay eggs within 24 to 48 hours of being on the host and can lay 5000 or more eggs over her life. The adult flea only lives for two or three months and without a host, they only survive a few days. The ideal temperature for the flea's life cycle is 21 to 30 degrees and optimum humidity is 70 per cent.
- The flea eggs, laid by the adult flea, are 0.5mm in length and they easily fall off the host into the environment and hatch to larva within one to six days.
- Flea larva can be found living in carpet, furniture, cracks and outside in the soil, feeding on organic material and avoiding sunlight. This stage lasts for five to 11 days and leads into the flea pupae stage.
- Pupae begin as larvae and form a cocoon, hatching over 14 days. However, they can remain dormant for up to 350 days. The adult flea will wait for a suitable opportunity to emerge. These triggers include vibrations, heat and an increase in carbon dioxide which are generally an indication that a host pet is around.
Keeping the environment clean and using flea protection regularly will help reduce the risk to your pet.
Dr Renee Pigdon, Petfocus Vetcare