How long do fleas live?
Popularly known as fleas, Siphonaptera are an order of apterous insects made up of about 1900 species in total (grouped into 16 families), which are characterized by being external blood-sucking parasites, in other words, they feed on the blood of their hosts.
Generally speaking, fleas have the ability to feed on various animals (dogs, cats, rats, rabbits, mice, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, opossums, foxes, chickens, etc.) and even on humans depending on the capabilities of their family and their own as a species.
These insects do not need to parasitize a host to survive, in fact, as pupae, fleas can live for months in carpets, couches, crevices and corners as long as there is a warm temperature. There, the flea will wait for a potential host to approach, thus hatching, jumping and clinging to it; all this, in a matter of seconds.
Once their pupal stage is complete, fleas will live for just four weeks as an adult, and during that time they will lay between 15 and 20 eggs per day.
Although its life expectancy as an adult does not extend beyond one month, its complete metamorphosis, that is, the period in which its cycle from egg to adult is completed, will vary from two weeks to eight months depending on temperature, humidity, food and species.
In a strict sense, an exact life expectancy cannot be established for fleas, since they are not a species per se, but rather an order (taxonomic category superior to the family and inferior to the class) composed of about 16 families and 1900 species in total.
In this sense, the most correct thing would be to establish an average life expectancy among the 16 families of the order of the Siphonaptera (fleas). However, this would not be correct either, since it is the flea who decides when to emerge from the pupa as an adult. In turn, this decision will be affected by different factors, such as temperature, humidity, food and the type of flea.
Usually, a flea completes its metamorphosis (from egg to larva, from larva to pupa, and from pupa to adult) between 2 weeks and 8 months at most; while their adulthood does not usually exceed four weeks.
In short, the life expectancy of a flea can vary between 6 and 39 weeks.
Where do fleas live?
As holometabolic insects, fleas go through a complete life cycle of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. During each of these four stages, the flea will seek to settle in the place that offers the ideal conditions (temperature, humidity and food) for its optimal development.
The proliferation of these blood-sucking parasites is successful precisely because people tend to focus on eradicating only adult fleas, forgetting that, for every female adult flea that exists, there will be at least 15 to 20 eggs scattered throughout the area. where the flea host transits, in other words, fleas can be found anywhere near their parent.
Where does a flea live during its egg stage?
When they are a tiny egg, fleas can live in cracks, carpets, rugs, and the like.
Where does a flea live during its larval stage?
Once the egg hatches, and the pupa emerges, the flea will continue to live in the ground, although they will seek to get away from the light, taking refuge in crevices or corners.
Where does a flea live during its pupal stage?
As pupae, fleas will continue to live inert in the same place where they had established their refuge during their larval stage.
Where does a flea live during its adult stage?
Once the flea emerges from the pupa as an adult, it will begin to live in the host it decided to parasite. Generally, these soils will be dogs, cats, rats, rabbits, mice, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, possums, foxes, or chickens.
What do fleas eat?
Each and every one of the 1900 species of insects that make up the order of the Siphonaptera are characterized by being hematophagous parasites, in other words, all fleas feed on the blood of their hosts.
However, it is important to clarify that only adult fleas feed on the blood of their hosts, since, when they are in their larval stage, fleas do not yet have the ability to parasitize, which means that they must feed on everything that is at your disposal in order to survive.
Normally, during their larval stage, fleas feed on dead skin, hair, feathers, and especially on the feces of adult fleas.
Interesting facts about fleas
Have you ever had to deal with a flea infestation in your home ...? Without a doubt, fleas can be a real headache for those who have pets in their homes, especially dogs and cats.
These tiny insects are really effective at parasitizing and reproducing, however that's not the only thing that makes them special. Here are some interesting facts about fleas:
- In case you wondered before, yes, fleas can feed on human blood. However, they will only opt for this blood as a last alternative.
- The body of fleas is designed to resist being crushed, in fact, it is very difficult to kill them this way. For this reason, this type of pest is controlled through the use of specialized insecticides.
- Fleas will be especially inactive in winter. On the contrary, these insects will show greater activity in hot and humid climates.
- Despite not exceeding 4 millimeters in length, the dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) is capable of jumping up to 50 centimeters in horizontal jump and 25 centimeters in vertical jump.
- Since they need more nutrients to keep their frenetic reproduction rate going, female fleas can consume up to 15 times their weight of blood per day.