Fleas are small wingless insects that can be classified as parasites that are difficult to control. These insects predominantly live on small animals kept at home as pets, such as cats and dogs.
- Fleas are also common among birds and various other wild animals. Being parasitic, fleas survive almost exclusively on a diet of blood.
- They belong in the order Siphonaptera, which encompasses over 2,500 different species.
The focus of this post shall be on what fleas look like, but first things first—related: Bed Bug Pictures.
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What do fleas look like? (30+ Images of Fleas & Eggs)
First and foremost, fleas are transmitters of a wide spectrum of diseases to both humans and animals. Some of these include the following;
– Flea fecal matter contains a bacterium known as Rickettsia typhi, which is then transmitted from flea feces to the bite wound. Symptoms can range from fever and headaches to nausea and generalized body aches.
2. Mycoplasma haemofelis is another common disease affecting the cat population that can be transmitted via flea bites.
When this bacteria enters your feline friend’s blood system, it causes symptoms such as anemia and fever. The bacteria can also be transmitted to humans. People with suppressed immune systems are more prone to Mycoplasma haemofelis.
3. Cat Scratch Disease – This disease, as the name suggests, mainly affects cats. It is caused by the bacteria Bartonella henselae. The disease is so prevalent that it is believed to affect close to 40 percent of all cats during the course of their lives.
4. Tapeworms – Tapeworms are among the most common parasitic worms that affect both pets and humans.
Usually, pets expose themselves to tapeworms by seamlessly swallowing an infected flea during their normal grooming exercise.
However, cats will easily get tapeworms by eating infected mice. These worms cause nausea, vomiting, and inflammation of the intestines.
Related: Fleas Spray for your Home
How Big Can Fleas Get?
Adult flea measures between 1.5 and 3.2 mm long. Females are generally larger than males, especially around their abdomen. They can measure up to 2.5 mm long. If they can find a reliable host, female fleas will only take 48 hours to achieve their maximum size.
Also, females will not reproduce before getting any blood meal. However, as soon as they get their first meal, they will only take between 36 and 48 hours to lay their first eggs.
Female fleas living on animals often lay their eggs right on the animal’s fur. They normally average 50 eggs per day. However, these eggs are not usually attached firmly to the animal’s body, so when the animal begins to move, they fall off, and that’s where the flea menace begins.
Related: Fleas Shampoo for Cats
Flea eggs are characterized by white color and are as small as sand grain. The eggs hatch very fast. With moderate weather conditions, they take about a week and a half. But if the conditions are more favorable such as in warm temperatures and high humidity, these eggs could hatch in days.
From the egg stage comes the larvae stage. The flea larva is usually white with pale hair and measures ¼ inch in length. In most areas infested by fleas, the larvae usually constitute a third of the entire flea population.
They are relatively more difficult to spot. This is because, being photophobic, they tend to bury themselves underneath fabric and carpets. Flea larvae live on flea dirt and conspecific eggs for a period between 5 and 20 days before they can begin spinning their cocoons.
When that happens, you know they are ripe for the next stage in flea development – the pupae. Flea pupae resemble the adult in various ways, as this is the last stage of the insect’s development.
The pupae will start white, then turn yellow and finally, brown. Flea pupae spend most of their time in their cocoons. That’s where they will stay until they detect a potential host’s presence, then hop out and assume their new home, usually for the rest of their lives.
What Do They Look Like?
As we mentioned at the beginning, fleas are wingless. However, their back legs are specially adapted for jumping up to 30 centimeters high. That’s how they manage to move from the ground to their hosts.
An adult flea measures around 3 mm in length and is characterized by a reddish-brown or brown color.
Flea bites are sore and itchy and coupled with the fact that one flea can bite every 5 minutes, it is clear to see how these ravenous little parasites can make your life or that of your pet a living nightmare.
Detect Fleas in Your Home
In most cases, fleas will settle for pets as opposed to humans as hosts. Well, there is really no difference because the agony experienced in either case is nearly the same. Flea-infested dogs will experience constant hair loss.
But even before you notice a few furs missing from your pet’s coat, you will surely not miss the little dark spots moving around in his fur.
That’s the surest sign your pet is infested. You might also want to look out for flea droppings that are black in color or their eggs that range between white and transparent. Also, check if the pet has reddened and irritating patches on its skin and excessively scratches or licks the skin.
Fleas are not very difficult to spot, especially when they are fully grown. These jumping parasites are known to be frenzy feeders, so when they find a host in you, be prepared for endless days of itching and scratching.
You need not prepare for all that when you can take preventive measures to keep these insects at bay.