Did you know that there are more than 2,000 species of fleas on the planet? There are more than 200 species in the US alone, and 19 species just in the state of Florida. That’s a lot of opportunities for you and your pets to get bitten!
Some of the most common fleas found in the US are known outside of the scientific community as cat fleas, human fleas, rat fleas, chicken fleas, sand fleas, sticktight fleas and springtail fleas. The female fleas from all of these species are capable of laying eggs as soon as 48 hours after finishing a meal.
Their ability to hop distances of one to two feet can make them difficult for you to catch and exterminate. Here is some more information about two common types of fleas and how you can prevent them from affecting your pets and your home.
Common Types of Fleas
Ctenocephalides Canis: Dog Flea
This common flea feeds off of furry mammals, primarily dogs. It can occasionally infect humans, cats and other furry creatures though. Infestations are most common in Europe, according to Long Time No Flea but they do sometimes occur in the US.
Dog fleas are very similar to cat fleas (ctenocephalides felis), both in physical appearance and effects caused by their bites. The only difference is the shape of their heads, which you would need a microscope to notice.
Spilopsyllus Cuniculi: Rabbit Flea
Rabbit fleas operate a bit differently than dog and cat fleas, who will bite almost anything that’s furry and warm-blooded. Dog and cat fleas keep it simple, while rabbit fleas use a more complicated procedure.
These fleas can sense a particular hormone in their hosts’ blood, which makes them able to tell when their hosts are pregnant. That hormone then triggers the fleas’ sexual maturity, causing them to mate on the spot and quickly lay eggs.
As soon as their hosts go into labor, they migrate down to the birthing area and wait for the offspring to be released. These fleas then lay their eggs on top of their hosts’ new offspring to help the infestation spread faster. The newly hatched fleas then hang out on the host’s newborns for approximately 12 days before moving back onto the original host. Then they wait for their host to reproduce again and this process starts all over.
Although this flea is most often found on rabbits, it does occasionally appear on dogs and cats, usually around their ears. Rabbit fleas are dark brown-colored and approximately 1 millimeter long.
Are Fleas Dangerous?
Yes, they certainly can be. Not only can their biting cause you discomfort, but they can spread the bacterial disease Murine Typhus to you through infected rats, according to Pest World. They can become an intermediate host for tapeworm inside your pets and their saliva can cause serious flea allergies in dogs and cats.
Adult fleas typically latch onto a warm-blooded host, where they will remain at all times. After they mate and lay eggs though, those eggs tend to fall off onto nearby areas such as carpeting and bedding. Although fleas generally prefer hairy animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits and raccoons, it is not uncommon for them to feed on humans too.
Because fleas are able to reproduce so quickly, large flea infestations can be very difficult to control. One flea can produce as many as 500 offspring in its lifetime. The most effective way to get rid of fleas on your pets is to meet with a veterinarian to discuss treatment options. To get ride of a flea infestation in your home, you will need to contact a licensed pest control company.
How to Prevent Fleas
All species of fleas are capable of evolving and multiplying quickly when their hosts provide them with a wide selection of places that contribute to their survival and adaptation, according to fleabites.net. The most effective way to prevent this is to make sure your home and all of its surrounding areas are flea-proof. This can be achieved through basic cleanliness and sanitation, and by using flea control products.
It is also important to make sure there are no rats in your home and to frequently bathe your pets and wash all of their stuff. If you already have a small amount of fleas in your home or on your pets, but not enough to be considered an infestation, you may be able to exterminate them yourself using products such as a flea home spray or a flea pet shampoo.
Although fleas can be a nuisance for both pets and humans, they can be prevented and kept under control simply by following the right procedures. This common problem does not have to be common. The right preventative and management practices can really make a difference.