There are about 60 species in Britain. Adult fleas are external parasites living on mammals and birds. If you have a flea problem, then you will probably have that itching feeling and red blotches usually below the knee. Blotches can also be present on our arms from stroking our pets. Most flea infestations are cat fleas but they will also be on dogs etc.
Fleas – Order Siphonaptera
Adult fleas are wingless. Their mouth parts are well developed and are able topierce skin and suck the blood from within. Their bodies are thin and deep which allows them to travel in amongst body hairs and feathers. Adult flea body colours vary from off white to red/brown colours depending on whether or not it has fed recently! Adult fleas move by their hind legs, which have muscles developed to allow them to spring on to passing blood sources.
Adult fleas lay eggs on the host animal, which will fall off or get shaken off, and land in and about the host bedding and living environment where after 2-3 days they will hatch into larvae. These larvae will feed on flea faeces (containing blood), hairs, skin or anything with animal protein. After 3-4 weeks the larvae will spin a silk cocoon in which they will pupate. The pupation period will be dependent on the temperature and humidity of the environment. If cooler the pupation time is longer and if warmer the pupation period is quicker. Flea larvae and pupating fleas are usually under skirting boards, between floor boards, under carpets in animal bedding etc. Fleas will only leave their pupation cases as they feel a passing mammal’s vibration. They will then jump onto the unfortunate animal and have a blood feed.
Flea Problem Treatment
Treatment will only be effective with professionally applied insecticide and advice, so the life cycle can be broken and larvae food sources removed. Thorough cleaning of pet bedding and hoovering will help to break the flea’s life cycle but will not totally control the problem. Flea treatments from vets etc. for your pet is also strongly advised.