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INSECTS & BUGS

SIPHONAPTERA
(FLEAS)


This is an eArt scan of a very small Ctenocephalides felis flea, blown up many, many times.


REALLY BAD ACTORS

No two Orders of Insects and Bugs are more responsible for death and suffering to humans and other living things, than SIPHONAPTERA and DIPTERA. {DIPTERA includes flies, mosquitos, midges and gnats. For more information on DIPTERA, click here}. The reason that these two Orders have species within each Order, which are so deadly and disastrous to humans and other living things, is that such species carry deadly or at least dangerous pathogens within their bodies, which they pass on to other living things.


SIPHONAPTERA is an ORDER of the Class INSECTA which is part of the Phylum ARTHROPODA. FLEAS are within the Order Siphonaptera. They are parasites, i.e. they live off the blood of their hosts or victims, by sucking nutrients directly from their hosts. There are approximately 3,000 known different species of fleas. All fleas suck blood and in so doing pass on dangerous pathogens from one host to another. A rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopsis) will suck blood from a rat, which rat carries the "Bubonic plague" bacteria. Then the rat flea will bite a human and in doing so, mingle with the rat flea's saliva which contains the Bubonic plague bacteria, obtained from the prior rat host, with the blood of the new human host, thereby transmitting a deadly Bubonic plague bacteria to humans.

The name Siphonaptera is derived from the Greek words "siphon" meaning a tube or pipe and "aptera" meaning wingless. As adults, all fleas are blood-sucking external parasites (i.e. they do not go into the body, but suck blood from the exterior of the body). About 95%+ of fleas live on mammals and only about 5% on birds. Fleas are usually named for the host upon which they live. Therefore a dog flea lives on a dog, a cat flea lives on a cat, a rabbit flea lives on a rabbit, etc. In spite of this preference, however, most fleas will suck blood from whatever live host they can find.

Fleas are wingless insects and have a number of backward-directed spines. They have mouthparts adapted to piercing their host. The flea then injects saliva which contains components which prevent clotting while they suck the host's blood.

It has been said (perhaps tongue in cheek) that fleas even have fleas, on down or some other parasite which is equally disgusting, ad nauseam. While fleas many not have fleas, they do actually have parasites upon their bodies and internally as well.

Only the adults live on their host (i.e. victims). Fleas have a hard exoskeleton, strong hind legs for jumping. They also have a flattened body laterally which can move easily within the fur or feather of the host. Fleas can jump enormous distances, such as 300 mm horizontally.

If leave home for a time, even if your pet(s) have been rendered flea-less, you may return, walk in, and find yourself being bitten profusely by fleas, which hatched out of your carpet while you were gone. A good vacuum daily or even a couple of times per day, for a short time, may be all that is needed to rid your residence or office of fleas, once they try to take over.

While lice spend most of their time on the host, fleas spend a good bit of their time off the body of the host. Fleas can live for weeks or even months without a blood meal and they may live for a year or longer.

The larvae of fleas are "vermiform", i.e. they are worm-like in shape. They have a sparse bristle covering and rarely live on the body of a host. The larvae is legless.

Larvae feed as scavengers in a nest or bedding living off of organic debris including the feces of adult fleas (ugh, huh?). The larvae go through two "molts", i.e. shedding of their skins. After the second molt, the larvae spin a cocoon and undergo a metamorphosis, into an adult. Flea larvae can survive in more arid regions than fly larvae can.

Some fleas are:

Common Name Scientific Name
Cat Flea Ctenocephalides felis (Bouche)
Dog Flea Ctenocephalides canis (Curtis) not presently available
Northern Rat Flea Nosopsyllus fasciatus (Bosc) not presently available
Oriental Rat Flea Xenopsylla cheopis (Rothchild) not presently available
Rabbit Flea Cediopsylla simplex (Baker) not presently available

This page is still under construction and more material may be added later.
We hope this information is of benefit to you.