Fleas. Tiny but incredibly annoying pests that feed off animal blood, yes, that includes humans as well.
Have you ever found itchy red welts on parts of your body like your ankles? Well, it’s no doubt you probably encountered the attack of a flea- or a whole pack of them! Those infuriating insects can become incredibly annoying when they start to infest your home or your beloved pets.
So, you are probably thinking about how to get rid of them. Relax, before you do that, you must be able to identify the infestation to effectively get rid of them. How much do you know about these bothersome insects? Do fleas fly? Do they have wings? How do they move? Read on to get to know fleas, and more importantly, how to get them gone for good.
What Are Fleas?
While you may think it is just a speck of dust, beware, there is a huge possibility that it’s a flea. These are tiny insects that are part of the Siphonaptera insect order. These insects are usually black or dark brown and can grow about 0.1 inches or 0.25 cm in length.
Do Fleas Have Wings?
Siphonaptera- and the suffix Aptera, which means wingless, its name already states that this parasitic insect does not possess any wings. Not having wings is usually common for ectoparasites that are found in mammals.
Modern fleas are known to be wingless and flightless insects, however, scientists do believe that these annoying insects are descended from ancestors that possess wings.
Studies show that fleas belong to a classification called Mecoptera and Boreidae, which are special species of fleas that have wings.
Fleas have continued to act as parasites on some of the ancient vertebrates. These pesky insects have started parasitizing mammals for about sixty million years. As they evolved, both their ability to fly and their need for wings became unnecessary for these creatures. This resulted in having the free-living “pre-fleas”. During those times, habitats turned to become the burrows of the mammal hosts. This should be the reason how fleas came to be wingless and unable to fly.
What Do Fleas Look Like?
One of the struggles with being infested with fleas at home is that you often misidentify the pests. this is incredibly important to understand how to effectively get rid of them. If you misidentify these pests, you might not be able to find the best solution to get rid of them.
How Do I Identify Them?
You can confirm whether you are being infested by fleas by their physical properties. This might be hard at first so it usually takes time. Fleas usually have dark red to brownish color. Their exoskeletons are hard and properly covered in backward-pointing hairs. These insects may look like they have eyes, but those are simple eyespots since they usually depend on their antennae and sense of smell to navigate. These parasites have extended mouthparts that they use to feed on their host’s blood.
If you think you saw fleas “fly”, do not be fooled. These insects are excellent jumpers. Since they do not have wings, they travel through climbing, crawling, and jumping. Thanks to their long back legs, they can jump up to 80 times their height and 200 times their body length.
A fully grown flea doesn’t get much larger than 3 mm in length. Even when fully grown, these insects are fairly small in size. Don’t fret, although they are really small, they can still be detected by the human eye.
Fleas are small, especially their eggs. They are white round or oval-shaped eggs. Unlike eggs from other insects, these are dry This is the reason why it is often directly laid on to the host.
Fleas have over 2,500 existing species and subspecies, but the most common one is the cat flea. Do not mind its name, since this flea can still be found on various mammals like your dogs, rabbits, foxes, and even humans Some pet owners think that dog fleas are the parasites that are causing their canines so much distress, but it usually is the cat flea since dog fleas are only prevalent in Europe.
Dog and cat fleas almost have a similar appearance, wherein their differences can only be seen under magnification.
Am I Flea-Infested?
If you have been suspecting that your home is infected by fleas, here are some signs you should be on the lookout for:
- Your pets, especially dogs, are continuously scratching their skin. Check to see if there are dark specks along their skin. Also, check for hair loss and dry spots on their fur since it is also a sign of flea infestation.
- You find some flea dirt or feces on your floor. You can check by wetting the floor since these usually turn reddish-brown when it is in contact with water.
- If you see flea bites on your skin or your pet. This usually feels itchy, bumpy, and swollen. You can commonly find them on the neck, eggs, ears, hinds, and belly of you or your pets.
- Try doing the white sock test. Just wear them around the house and where your pet usually stays. If you see any flees, then that is a sign of fleas infestation.
- Check your furry friend’s gum. Pale gums are usual signs of anemia. This can most likely be because of the fleas.
- Make sure you do some rounds on your house to see if you can find and get rid of those flea eggs. Check your carpet, wooly textiles, and your pet’s beddings.
Facts You Need To Know
- Fleas have an incredibly fast life cycle.
- They lay at least 50 eggs per day.
- For flea infestation, general cleaning is the immediate intervention.
- Fleas survive for 2 to 6 weeks without feeding.
- Fleas can cause anemia.
- Fleas can become potent disease-carrying organisms for humans.
- Fleas have more than 1500 species around.
- Fleas start feeding in just 5 minutes.
- A single flea can survive in your dog’s skin for more than two months.
- Female fleas can lay at least 2000 eggs before dying.
Bugs That Look Like Fleas But Aren’t
If you think your home is flea-infested, it is best to check before applying any intervention because there are times they might not be fleas at all. It is best to figure out what insect is infesting your home to accurately and effectively remove them. Here are some bugs that look like fleas but aren’t:
- Bat bugs
- Bed bugs
- Black carpet beetles
- Confused flour beetle
- Crickets and Grasshoppers
- Flea beetles
- Fungus gnats
- Head louse
- Brown dog ticks
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