Flea facts

Flea: external view

  • A flea can jump 150 times its size. That is the same as a person able to jump up 1,000 feet in the air. 
  • An Antarctic flea has evolved to wait 9 months under several feet of ice and snow for its host, the petrel, to return to the nest. 
  • Bat fleas in Southeast Asia hitch rides to the bat roosts on the backs of bat earwigs – as many as 41 fleas have been counted on the back of one earwig! 
  • Female fleas cannot lay eggs until after their first blood meal and begin to lay eggs within 36 to 48 hours after that meal. 
  • Flea fossils date back to the Lower Cretaceous period, meaning fleas have been around for about 100 million years. At that time, their neighbor might have been a Tyrannosaurus Rex or Triceratops! 
  • Flea larvae are blind. 
  • Fleas are often confused with bedbugs, lice and ticks. 
  • Fleas have a ball of a substance called Resilin above their hind legs, which gives them their bounce. Resilin is the most elastic substance known. A Resilin ball dropped from100 feet would bounce back to 97 feet! 
  • If you happen to see one flea, there may be more than 100 offspring or adults looming nearby in furniture, corners, cracks, carpeting or on your pet. 
  • Modern life makes it easy to forget about fleas. Our houses are drier than those of our ancestors and flea larvae need moisture to reproduce. Hence we are less plagued with them than our forebears. However, for most of human history humans of all classes were routinely flea-bitten. In the words of one old poem the flea was "born to range the merry world / to rob at will the veins delectable of princes... To lie with ladies, and ah fairest joy, / on infants' necks to feed." 
  • One theory of historians says that lap dogs were bred, not for their company, but to distract the fleas into biting the dog instead of its owner! 
  • Some fleas can jump 150 times their own length. That compares to a human jumping 1,000 feet. One flea broke a record with a four-foot vertical jump. 
  • The cat flea, which infests both cats and dogs, is a tropical insect and cannot tolerate freezing temperatures for long periods of time. However, it is well adapted to indoor living. 
  • The female flea can lay 2,000 eggs in her lifetime; if all 53 million dogs in the U.S. each hosted a population of 60 fleas, we'd have more than six trillion flea eggs surrounding our pets. Laid end-to-end, those eggs would stretch around the world more than 76 times! 
  • The female flea consumes 15 times her own body weight in blood daily. 
  • The largest recorded flea is the North American Hystrichopsylla schefferi, measuring 12mm in length -- almost half an inch! 
  • They can perform the human equivalent of jumping over St. Paul's Cathdral in London...not just once but 600 times an hour for three days in a row! 
  • Undisturbed and without a blood meal, a flea can live more than 100 days. On average, they live two to three months. 
  • While adult fleas all suck blood from a cat, dog or other mammal, their larvae live and feed on organic debris in the host animal's environment. 
  • While there are more than 2,000 known species and subspecies of fleas, only one flea species -- the cat flea -- accounts for almost all the fleas found on cats and dogs in the United States.


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