Fleas! These minute creatures tend to cause a big problem. Often found on your domestic furry friends, fleas can also make magnificent hops and make you and your warm cozy home their next meal and humble abode. Fleas are a nuisance to any pet owner. When the pest expands to humans, they cause bloody rashes, which itch incessantly and can sometimes lead to infections in both humans and pets.
Small and annoying as they are, there is a mountain of fascinating facts about nature’s minuscule hitchhikers. Keep reading for ten fun facts about fleas.
Fun Fact #1: Fleas Are Olympic Worthy Jumpers
Fleas are exceptional, Olympic-worthy jumpers. Despite having six legs, they would never outrun or be able to hitch their rides on your pets by simply crawling. They do get around by jumping. Fleas can jump more than 150 times their body length, which is the equivalent of you jumping across a football field. They can also consecutively jump a whopping 30,000 times without ever stopping. Another interesting tidbit is that when fleas jump, they accelerate 50 times faster than a space shuttle. Fleas survive off drinking blood, but they are tiny. Their innate jumping skills are their only method of guaranteeing survival.
Fun Fact #2: Fleas Bit Dinosaurs Too
You read correctly. Fleas have been around for 165 million years. Fossils discovered in Mongolia and China indicate that fleas living in the Mesozoic era plagued the dinosaurs. You’re probably asking how do those fleas look? They were gargantuan, measuring an impressive 0.8 inches coupled with sharp mouthparts capable of piercing the skin of a dinosaur. Unlike their present-day counterparts, the fleas of yesteryear were unable to jump.
Fun Fact #3: Fleas Helped Transmit the Black Death
The plague, or as it is ominously called, the Black Death, killed tens of millions of people during the Middle Ages. London alone lost 20% of its population in just two years due to the plague. You must be wondering what this has to do with the tiny, humble flea. Many rodents and animals were killed as they became infected with the bacteria that caused the plague. These same animals were the meal host for the fleas. So, when the infected animals succumbed, the fleas found the next best option, humans. Thus, inadvertently rapidly spreading the infection.
Fun fact #4: Fleas Lay a Lot of Eggs
Fleas, in their short lifespan, can produce 2000 eggs. What starts on your pets as a few fleas can quickly turn into an impossible itch fest as a single adult flea lays up to 5o eggs per day on your dogs or cats. Fleas are like mosquitoes, bed bugs, and other blood-sucking parasitic pests; they don’t want to let go once they find a suitable host.
Fun Fact#5: Fleas Enjoy a Flexible Life Cycle
The life cycle of a flea can be divided into four parts: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The adult lays eggs on a host, which falls off into the environment. When these eggs hatch into larvae, they make solid homes in the ground, feed, and go through several molts until they spin a cocoon and become puparium. Eventually, from the puparium, adult fleas emerge. They then seek out an animal host for their first blood meal, which is essential for survival. Under ideal conditions, this entire process takes 21 days.
However, fleas have a very flexible life cycle. They will wait until conditions are optimal to move from one stage to another. Fleas prefer warm temperatures, and the life cycle quickly transitions during these temperatures. In colder temperatures, the process slows down or comes to a complete halt awaiting warmer conditions. Once they have made their homes on your four-legged friends, fleas can live up to a year.
Without a host, their chance of survival significantly falls, and they live between 8 days and two weeks.
Fun Fact #6: The Flea Circus
During the 16th Century in Great Britain, fleas transitioned from lowly pests to circus entertainers. A flea circus is a sideshow attraction in which fleas are attached (or appear to be attached) to miniature carts and other items and encouraged to perform circus acts within a small house.
In 1820s London, the Italian Louis Bertolotto decided fleas were his ticket to fortune. He proudly declared his new act as an “extraordinary exhibition of industrious fleas,” in which the bugs were the stars of the show. Bertolotto’s show was Part action and part humor. His fleas pulled a tiny carriage and danced to an orchestra featuring small instruments. The fleas supposedly played with audible enthusiasm.
Fun Fact #7: Fleas Can Be Difficult to Get Rid Of
Unlike some other pests, due to fleas’ complex life cycle, getting rid of a flea infestation usually isn’t a one-and-done treatment. Often, multiple visits by a licensed professional are required to completely eradicate a flea problem.
Fun Fact #8: Fleas Poop Blood
Fleas have a strict diet that is exclusively blood. An adult flea can feed as many as 15 times per day. Like every other living creature, fleas have a digestive process that produces waste. With only blood going in, it is natural that only blood comes out. Flea feces are wholly comprised of dried blood residue. This excrement remains on the host, and larvae that have not fallen off and hatch on the host will feed on this waste product.
Fun Fact #9: Fleas Are Blind
Fleas can detect changes in light and dark, but they are incapable of seeing visual images. Flea eyes can sense wavelengths between 300 and 600 nanometers and is most sensitive to green-yellow light. Fleas do not have ears. They can, however, feel vibrations.
Fun Fact #10: Fleas Are Strong
Saying fleas are merely strong is a gross understatement. Fleas can pull 160,000 times their weight, which is the equivalent of you pulling 2,679 double-decker buses.
Protect Your Long Island Home from Fleas
Fleas have a fascinating history, but what is vital is keeping your pets and home free of flea infestation. Due to how quickly they procreate and feed, one flea quickly turns into 2000 fleas all over your house.
Suburban Exterminating, which operates in Suffolk and Nassau Counties, is the ideal company to get and keep your house and pets flea-free. Not only do we thoroughly exterminate, but we leave you with all the knowledge you need to prevent a future outbreak.
Don’t wait on the inevitable itch, at the first sign of fleas, call Suburban Exterminating at (631/516) 864-6900 for your free flea inspection.