Interesting Facts About Fleas: Skilled Jumpers

Fleas?! They’ve (literally) plagued humankind for centuries, but how much do you know about these common insects? Most pet owners have some experience dealing with fleas. After all, fleas are indiscriminate parasites, happy enough to feed off of dogs and cats, ferrets and rabbits, and, of course, humans, when the need arises.
While a lot people have encountered these nasty little parasites, they know very little about them. However, despite being quite troublesome for pet owners and their furry friends, fleas are actually interesting creatures.
Flea is a type of insect that belongs to the group of external parasites (animals that live on other living creatures and use them as a source of food). There are more than 2.000 species and subspecies of fleas that can be found around the world.
Besides in the wild, fleas are often found in the rural and urban areas where they live in close proximity of domestic animals, pets and humans.
Let’s start with these 7 interesting facts about fleas.
1. Fleas are tiny, flat, dark, reddish brown insects measuring an average of 1/16 to 1/8-inch (1.5 to 3.3 mm) long. They have no wings but get from one place to another by jumping. They are well known for their ability to leap. Fleas are parasitic insects and use their tube-like mouth parts for sucking blood from their host.
2. A female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day. Typically, it’s more like 20 eggs, but that means that a single prolific female flea can cause a major infestation in less than two months.
3. Flea is able to drink amount of blood that is 15 times bigger than its body weight (on a daily basis). Bite usually induces itching and redness. Flea is also able to transmit tapeworms and various viruses and bacteria into the blood of host.
4. Fleas lay their eggs on other animals, not in your carpet. A common misunderstanding about fleas is that they lay their eggs in your carpeting and furniture. Fleas actually lay their eggs on their animal host, meaning if your dog Fido has adult fleas living in his fur, those adult fleas are doing their best to keep him infested with their offspring. Flea eggs, however, aren’t particularly sticky or well suited for staying put, so they mostly roll off your pet and land in his dog bed or on the carpet.
5. Fleas are skilled jumpers. Fleas don’t fly, and they would never be able to catch your dog in a foot race (despite having six legs to Fido’s four). So how are these tiny insects able to get around? Fleas are amazingly adept at flinging themselves into the air.
Cat fleas, our most common flea pest, can propel themselves a full 12 inches forward or upward. That’s a jumping distance equal to roughly 150 times its own height. Some sources compare this to a human landing a long jump of nearly 1,000 feet.
6. Adult fleas poop blood. Fleas feed exclusively on blood, using their piercing, sucking mouthparts to siphon it from their hosts. An adult flea may take as many as 15 blood meals in a single day.
Like any animal, a flea produces waste at the end of the digestion process. Flea feces are essentially dried blood residue. When they hatch, flea larvae feed on this dried blood waste, which is usually left in the host animal’s bedding.
7. Giant fleas plagued dinosaurs as early as 165 million years ago. Compression fossils from Inner Mongolia and China suggest that fleas pestered the dinosaurs, too. Two species, dubbed Pseudopulex jurassicus and Pseudopulex magnus, lived in the Mesozoic era.
The larger of the two dino flea species, Pseudopulex magnus, was an impressive 0.8 inches long, with equally impressive mouthparts capable of piercing dinosaur skin. These ancestors of today’s fleas lacked the ability to jump, however.

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