It would be wrong to think of fleas as just a nuisance to us and our pets. Adult fleas are parasitic feeders that can transmit bacteria and disease due to their promiscuous feeding habits, drawing blood from humans and animals alike while moving from host to host. Fleas can live for about 100 days during which time the females produce 400-500 offspring. Once hatched, the worm-like larva live in crevices in the floor, under carpets and more often than none, in your pets bedding. Larvae feed on organic debris, particularly the faeces of adult fleas, which contain undigested blood. Of the nearly 100 different species of fleas found in South Africa, one species in particular is attributed to over 99% of the problems to humans and pets.
THE CAT FLEA
Adult fleas are approximately 2.5 mm long and are dark in color, ranging from brown to reddish brown. Fleas are wingless, although they are capable of jumping large distances from host to host as a result of their six long legs. The bodies of fleas are thin and flat, allowing for easy movement through an animal’s fur. Their bodies are also covered in hair that serves to root them to the host. Adults have mouthparts which are used to extract the host’s blood.
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