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Flea Facts: Know Thy Enemy

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General Facts

  • A flea's main diet is blood.
  • Fleas are generally less than 3/16" long.
  • A female flea consumes 15 times her body weight in blood daily.
  • Fleas are attracted to animals by body heat, movement and the carbon dioxide the host exhales.
  • Fleas accelerate the equivalent of 50 times faster than a space shuttle does after liftoff.
  • Fleas can jump up to 150 times the length of their bodies, about 7" vertically and 14" horizontally. An equivalent human jump would be 250' vertically and 450' horizontally.
  • There are 250 species of fleas in North America.
  • A temperate, subtropical climate presents the most favorable conditions for fleas to exist.
  • The five most commonly encountered flea species are:

    Cat Flea
    Dog Flea
    Northern Rat Flea
    Oriental Rat Flea
    Rabbit Flea

  • Oriental Rat Fleas can transmit murine typhus fever among rats and from rats to humans.
  • Fleas may transmit bubonic plague from rodent to rodent and from rodent to humans.
  • Hot, dry periods give maximum adult flea production.
  • The greatest adult flea populations are produced in August through September.
  • Cat and dog fleas may be intermediate hosts for the dog tapeworm. If ingested, tapeworms that normally infest dogs and cats may appear in children.
  • It is estimated that pet owners alone spend over $1 billion each year controlling fleas.
  • Typical flea population consists of 50% eggs, 35% larvae, 10% pupae and 5% adult.
  • Typical life cycle from egg to adult varies from two weeks to eight months, depending on the temperature, humidity, food and species.
  • Female fleas lay their tiny white eggs loosely on hairs, feathers or in the habitat of the host. The eggs fall off the host onto the ground, floors, bedding or furniture.
  • After a blood meal, a female flea normally lays about 15-20 eggs per day, up to 600 in a lifetime.
  • Sand and gravel are very suitable for larval development, which is the reason fleas are erroneously called "sand fleas".
  • lay eggs without a blood meal, but may live from two months to one year without feeding.
  • In 30 days, 10 female fleas under ideal conditions can multiply to over a quarter million different life stages.


Regional Flea Facts

  • The cat flea is the most frequently found flea in Florida and Ohio.
  • Dog, human and sticktight fleas are also found in Florida.
  • In July through October, fleas are most troublesome in Ohio.
  • Fleas are most abundant during humid, rainy summers and are more common outside in the southern U.S. than in the north.
  • Nearly all known cases of plague in humans in the U.S. since 1925 have been associated with wild rodents (mostly from the Rocky Mountain States) and their fleas.
  • Plague in the sylvatic form, is endemic in the western U.S. among rodents such as chipmunks, ground squirrels and prairie dogs.
  • The rabbit flea is most often found on cottontail rabbits in the east an jackrabbits in the west.

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