Types of fleas

10 minutes. for reading

Fleas are one of the most common pests. These parasites feed on the blood of humans and animals, often causing significant harm to health. Flea bites can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. In addition, these blood-sucking insects are carriers of dangerous diseases.

There are several main types of fleas found in our country.

Life cycle of a flea

Before looking at the characteristics of each type of flea, let's understand the common features of all these blood-sucking insects. For example, all types of fleas have a similar life cycle.

Fleas go through a full transformation cycle, consisting of four stages:

  1. Egg: Fleas do not choose specific places to lay eggs. The female flea attaches the eggs to the animal's fur, where they fall to the floor. Eggs may also be laid in wall cracks, under baseboards, or on animal bedding. Under favorable conditions, the egg develops in about two weeks. A female can lay up to a dozen eggs a day and up to four hundred in her lifetime.
  2. Larva: The flea larva looks like a small worm. She goes through three stages of development, experiencing two molts. The larvae feed on organic waste, mainly the feces of adult fleas. They are hidden in the upholstery of upholstered furniture, in the fibers of carpets and small cracks in the floor. This period of flea life can last up to two weeks in favorable conditions and up to six months in unfavorable conditions.
  3. Doll: If indoor conditions are suitable for flea life, the pupal stage can last up to 12 days. At the end of this stage, an adult, or imago, emerges from the cocoon.
  4. Imago: This is the final stage of the flea's life cycle. It is the adults who bring a lot of trouble. Most often, a person notices a flea only at this stage. An adult lives on average from three months to one and a half years.

According to studies, adults make up only up to 5% of the flea population in one room. The majority of the population consists of eggs, larvae and pupae.

Flea body structure

Different types of fleas may vary slightly in structure, but there are some common characteristics.

An adult flea has a flat, elongated body and a round head. On the body, head and paws of this insect there are bristly ctenidia, and on the tips of the paws there are claws. These bristles and claws help the flea to hold tightly to the fur of its owner.

Fleas have a piercing-sucking mouthpart in the shape of a proboscis. Using this proboscis, they penetrate the skin and inject a special substance into the wound that prevents blood clotting.

The most common types of fleas in Russia

There are many types of fleas found in Russia, but the following are especially common:

  1. Cat fleas: These fleas specialize in cats and are one of the most common species in the country.
  2. Dog fleas: Parasites that prefer dogs and are also quite common in homes and on the streets.
  3. Human (linen) fleas: This type of flea feeds on human blood and prefers to live in home environments, including beds and upholstered furniture.
  4. Southern rat fleas: These fleas are more common in the southern regions and prefer to parasitize rodents.
  5. Northern rat fleas: This species lives in the northern regions and is also a parasite of rodents.

Each of these types of fleas has its own characteristics, such as different structures of the oral apparatus and differences in behavior. Species names indicate their preferred hosts and habitat regions.

cat flea

Cat fleas are a cosmopolitan species, distributed in various regions. They are distinguished by their impressive size and are considered one of the most aggressive parasites. The body length of an adult cat flea can be up to 5 millimeters, and pregnant females can be up to 16 millimeters long!

The life cycle of this insect takes place mainly in the cat's fur or in its litter. Adults feed on animal blood, while larvae consume plant debris, adult feces and animal blood.

The life cycle of a cat flea can be up to two years. Optimal conditions for this insect include a temperature of 18 to 24 degrees and air humidity of at least 60%. Even in unfavorable conditions, cat flea pupae and adults can survive up to three years.

Cat fleas have unique body structure features, such as a flat and rounded forehead, and in males the handle of the sex claw widens significantly towards the end.

Dog flea

The dog flea, like the cat flea, is a cosmopolitan species that is distributed throughout all regions of Russia. This parasite is quite large in size and has peculiarities in the structure of its oral apparatus. Although the mouthparts of the dog flea are also piercing-sucking, like those of the cat flea, the proboscis of dog fleas is shorter. Both sexes, females and males, have a pronounced forehead, although in males the extension of the manubrium towards the edge is less pronounced.

Dog fleas develop throughout the year, just like their feline counterparts. This process occurs in the dog's fur or on its bedding. For normal growth and reproduction, the dog flea also requires the same conditions as cat parasites.

Southern rat flea

Southern rat fleas, as their name suggests, live in the southern regions of the country and most often parasitize rodents such as rats or gerbils.

Unlike other flea species, southern rat fleas are less aggressive when it comes to feeding. However, their danger lies in the fact that they can be carriers of plague. In field conditions, accidental contact with a plague flea can lead to infection of a camel or a person.

The physical characteristics of southern rat fleas distinguish them from other species. Their body, up to 2,7 millimeters long, is significantly smaller compared to cat or dog fleas. They do not have bristly combs called ctenidia on their heads. In addition, unlike other types of fleas, southern rat fleas lay their eggs not in the fur of animals, but in the nests of their owners.

The lifespan of southern rat fleas is highly dependent on environmental conditions. They prefer warm climates and air humidity of at least 70%. In such conditions, their life cycle can reach up to 200 days.

Northern rat flea

Northern rat fleas have gray rats as their primary hosts and are found in areas with the highest prevalence of gray rats, especially in northern latitudes. They are gradually giving way to more aggressive and larger cat fleas and are practically never found in basements. Most often, these insects find their refuge on gray rats in natural conditions.

Physically, northern rat fleas have an oval body up to 4 millimeters long. They have ctenidia, but their structure is different from other types of fleas. Females and males have a small bump on the front of their heads.

Since northern rat fleas are poorly adapted to urban environments and are inferior to cat parasites in aggressiveness and survival, they are not usually considered dangerous from an epidemiological point of view.

pulex irritans

Theories and myths about fleas

Pulex irritans, better known as the human flea, is a parasite that prefers humans as its host. This type of insect is widespread, especially in areas with unfavorable sanitary and hygienic conditions. If sanitary standards are violated, the population of human fleas grows at an amazing rate.

The human flea has its own body structure. The body length of this insect can reach three millimeters. They have a variety of colors, from light brown to black. Unlike other types of fleas, human house fleas lack ctenidia on the chest and head, and their limbs have a special structure. For example, on the hind legs you can see 4 pairs of lateral bristles.

The human flea also has an amazing jumping ability. They can jump to a height of up to 40 centimeters and a distance of up to 60 centimeters.

These insects feed on human blood and are extremely aggressive in their search for food. The process of sucking blood can take up to 20 minutes, during which they are firmly attached to the skin.

Human fleas reproduce very actively. The female is capable of laying up to ten eggs per day. Ideal conditions for their life include a temperature of about 22 degrees Celsius and an air humidity of at least fifty percent. With high humidity, 90% or more, these parasites can survive at temperatures up to 36 degrees Celsius.

Theories and myths about fleas

There are many popular misconceptions about fleas, as well as other pests. For example, many people believe that household fleas, which live on cats and dogs, do not bite humans and would not dare live in a house where these animals are not present. However, in practice the situation is completely different.

Indeed, due to the characteristics of human skin and the structure of flea limbs, the insect prefers not to live on humans. The skin on the human body is too smooth, and fleas are quickly detected on light skin.

However, if for some reason the flea has lost its usual host, it may use a person as a food source. A hungry flea can easily jump onto a person and bite him.

The danger of fleas to pets and humans

Fleas have a negative impact on the lives of not only humans, but also pets. Their bites cause irritation, allergic reactions and sometimes fester, with particularly severe reactions in children, who are at higher risk of developing allergies.

Fleas can cause sleep and appetite problems in pets. If the number of parasites is significant, this can lead to a risk of anemia and malnutrition.

In addition, fleas can carry various dangerous diseases, such as plague, tularemia, typhoid, dysentery, encephalitis and many others. Sometimes fleas are the source of epidemics. Rat fleas are especially dangerous in this regard. In addition, many of them can carry helminth eggs. If you find bite marks on your skin, take flea control measures immediately.

Where do fleas come from in human housing?

Ignoring hygiene rules in the house helps create an ideal environment for parasites to live. However, even if you regularly keep your home clean, these unpleasant insects may appear in your home.

The reasons for the appearance of fleas in an apartment can be different:

  1. Pet: Fleas can be transferred to a pet after a walk, especially if it has been in contact with an infested animal.
  2. Outdoor shoes and items: Insect eggs can enter your home on the soles of outdoor shoes, as well as on clothing or goods purchased on the street.
  3. Through cracks in walls and floors: Parasites can enter your home through small cracks and cracks in the floors or walls.
  4. Recycled items: Things and furniture, especially if they have been used, can be infested with insects.

There are many ways that pests can enter your home. Even if you don't have pets, you are not immune from having them in your home. Residents of the first floors and owners of private houses should be especially careful.

Preventing the appearance of parasites in the house

Heated and dusty basements, as well as warm apartments, create attractive living conditions for parasites. To prevent insects from entering from the basement, it is necessary to promptly seal even the smallest cracks and cracks in the floor.

Fleas do not tolerate cleanliness. Keep your home tidy and do wet cleaning regularly. If you have pets, provide them with decent conditions. Regularly treat your pets with special products, especially if they often go outside. Wear flea collars on them during walks and do not allow them to crawl around in basements.

It is also important to check your pets frequently. If you notice dark, small spots in their fur, it could be insect feces and blood residue. This is a sign of the presence of fleas and indicates the need to take serious measures to eliminate them.

AZ of Pests: Pest Advice for controlling Fleas


What types of house fleas are there?

There may be different types of fleas living in your apartment or house. Some of them live on animals, such as cat and dog fleas. There are also species of fleas that use humans as a host. Even if you don't have pets or don't hang out with your pets, there may be different types of fleas in your home.

What do fleas look like in an apartment?

The appearance of fleas depends on their species. Cat and dog fleas are usually larger in size than human fleas and have their own color patterns. Despite the differences in color, the body structure of fleas of different species is quite similar. All types of fleas have a flat and slightly elongated body, and the hind legs are significantly developed, which allows fleas to make high jumps.

How are cat fleas different from earth fleas?

Cat fleas live in the fur of warm-blooded animals and feed on their blood. They can also attack humans. Ground fleas, on the contrary, live in the upper layers of the soil and feed on plant juices. If earth fleas get into the house, they begin to destroy indoor plants.

What do bed fleas look like?

Bed fleas are small in size and differ little in appearance from other types of fleas. They usually appear as tiny black dots on bedding. Due to their small size, bed fleas can be difficult to notice right away. But if you notice small bites on your body, this may indicate their presence.

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