Fleas Image 2

Adult fleas are no larger than 1/8 inch long, so it is difficult to see a number of the characteristics used to describe them. These reddish-brown, wingless insects are laterally compressed, so they look as if they are walking on edge.

Fleas are wingless, with mouthparts adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood

Fleas are pests of dogs, cats, and livestock. With their piercing, sucking mouth parts, they will bite humans too. The large hind legs are good for hopping on and off their animal meal. Their legs which can jump relatively long distances, are good for changing hosts, and the comblike appendages help the insects resist being brushed out of hair. Because their bodies are flattened, they can move easily between the animal’s hairs.

Adult fleas lay all of their eggs (up to 50 per day) on pets or other animals.

The immatures or larvae are very tiny wormlike creatures, and can be present on fabric, carpet, or outdoors. Fleas generally do not prefer humans, however they may try to feed on humans if they have been starved for a long period of time. Fleas have also been known to carry diseases such as black plague (from fleas that usually infest rats), although there is not a lot of risk of those diseases in the United States at this time.

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