There are over 2,000 different species and subspecies of fleas, so it would be near impossible for me to list and describe all of them. I decided to pick out a few of the most common fleas that are likely to infest your home. I won’t be describing the different flea life cycle in the following paragraphs because they all have the same basic life cycle going from egg, larvae, pupae, then to adult flea.
Cat Flea (Ctenocephalides Felis)
This is the most common domestic flea, if you have an infestation this pesky little guy is probably the one that caused it. The scientific name for a cat flea is Ctenocephalides Felis or Bouché. Unlike most fleas the cat flea is known to remain on its host to feed. In order for the cat flea to be able to reproduce it has to acquire a fresh blood meal. Sadly for us cat fleas don’t just prey on cats but on just about any other pet species with fur (I said with fur because no your goldfish won’t have fleas).
Cats Fleas are about 2 millimeters in length when fully grown. They lay wet eggs on their host that eventually dry out and fall to the ground where they will hatch into larva. You’re more likely to find a cat flea on a dog than you are to find a dog flea on a dog.
The Dog Flea or Ctenocephalides Canis is a lot like the cat flea by feeding off all sorts of mammals such as humans, cats, dogs, and other furry animals. Though it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that primary host for a dog flea is well, a dog. Though you can have a dog flea infestation in the U.S, dog fleas are much more common in Europe.
Dog Fleas and Cat Fleas are very similar in appearance. The main differences are only distinguishable under a microscope. They can be distinguished by their heads. Wikipedia states
“The dog flea can be distinguished from the very similar cat flea by its head, which is anteriorly rounded rather than elongate, and the tibiae of its hind legs, which exhibit eight setae-bearing notches rather than six.”
As you can tell it’s difficult to really spot the differences with the naked eye. This won’t be too big of a problem considering there haven’t been any noticeable health differences found.
Yes there is such thing as a human flea. Though due to proper hygiene and improved sanitation and medical care they are very rare. They are actually more commonly found on pigs that humans. These fleas are reddish brown in color same as most fleas. The females are actually much larger than males, the largest being nearly one and a half times larger than the average male.
Some scientist believe that the human flea originally targeted the Guinea pig instead of humans because the flea was from South America to begin with.
You may not have recognized this devils name when you read it but you will recognize his legendary and dark work. The Oriental Rat Flea or Tropical Rat Flea is the one responsible for the rapid spread of the bubonic plague. This flea can be incredibly dangerous and is the most dangerous flea on our list. He tends to feed off of rats making him a walking plague. Each flea does carry its own minor disease but this guy carries many different diseases such as the bubonic plague and murine typhus. He isn’t to be taken lightly.
Being slightly bigger than the average flea being about 2.5mm in average size. It has no genal or pronotal combs. This characteristic is used to differentiate the Oriental Rat Flea from dog, cat, and human fleas.
If you still think this flea isn’t much to worry about just remember he was the one who spread the disease across Europe that killed 200 million people
This flea is a really interesting one. A Rabbit Flea can tell when its host is pregnant by sensing a hormone in the host blood. This triggers sexual maturity in the fleas causing them to mate and produce eggs. Once its host goes into labor it migrates down to the birthing area and waits for the offspring to come out. When the offspring comes out it lays its eggs on them to help spread the infestation faster. They stay on the newborn for about 12 days then move back on to the original host and wait for the next time the mother starts to reproduce.
The Rabbit Flea is approximately 1 millimeter long and dark brown in color. This flea is generally found on rabbits and hares of course, but is sometimes found on cats and dogs. When looking for this flea you should check around your pet’s ears.