Life Cycle of Fleas, Habitat, and Diet
The life cycle of fleas is broken down into four stages. Knowing each stage will help you to battle a possible infestation.
Fleas are no less than vampires, sucking the blood from a living being to live. And they will continue to do so until interrupted.
There are over 2,000 different types of fleas on this planet, but the most rampant kind is the cat flea and the dog flea (as known by their common name).
As pet owners, we are accustomed to the whole concept of taking every measure to keep fleas out of our pet’s fur. However, sometimes to eliminate a pest such as this you need to understand this dreadful insect fully.
Life Cycle of Fleas
Unlike other pests, fleas have a quite shorter lifespan. The life cycle of fleas usually divided into four stages: egg, larvae, pupa, and adult. The transformation from egg to adult takes approximately 10 to 20 days, depending on the conditions of the environment.
Stage One: Egg
After taking a blood-filled meal of your pet, the mother flea lays eggs while being latched onto its host, in this case, your dog or cat. A female flea can give birth to as many as 40 eggs in a single reproduction cycle per day. The eggs are microscopic regarding appearance (smaller than a grain of sand) and are smooth, oval-shaped and pearl-like in color.
Once the eggs are laid, upon scratching or shaking, the eggs fall off the host body and lodge themselves in various spaces of your house.
Essentially, wherever your pet goes, he/she is unknowingly spreading the eggs across the house.
Flea eggs can attach themselves anywhere, from upholstery to sofa covers and are undetectable by the human eye. It only takes one to six days for these eggs to turn into larvae, and if temperatures are warm and humid, they can hatch even sooner than that.
Stage Two: Larvae
Once the eggs turn into larvae, they shy away from direct light to avoid being seen. They will take shelter in the darkest of places. It could be in tiny cracks and crevices in your household since they are almost translucent in color with a whitish body.
Although flea larvae lack the presence of limbs, they are gifted with a well-developed appetite. They feed excessively on blood-rich flea feces, other animal excrements or vegetative waste while they build up to regain strength. They usually grow up to be ¼-inches long.Just as flea eggs comprise 50 percent of the entire flea population in your house, flea larvae make up approximately 35 percent of the flea population. The success rate of transforming into a fully grown adult flea is quite good.
This stage proceeds faster during the summer, spanning 4 to 24 days with the heat and moisture. But it can face a setback during the other seasons taking almost 200 days to enter the pupae stage.
Flea larvae then begin undergoing molts and start spinning their cocoons. They proceed to the next stage which is the pupae stage.
Stage Three: Pupa
In this stage, fleas develop a shell-like cocoon to remain undisturbed during this time. Flea pupae make up about ten percent of the entire flea population in your house. In fact, this stage is the last transformational phase which every flea undergoes before becoming into a fully gown adult flea.
Fleas spin a cocoon from smooth, silky, and transparent gossamer. It adds dust and dirt to make a thick shell, and protect itself from external threats.
The cocoon also provides a hiding mechanism and camouflages it from danger. These cocoons are resistant to flea sprays or any other commonly used flea-removal sprays.
Humid conditions and warm interiors help the pupae to develop into adult fleas and take only 8-12 days to do so. But if favorable conditions do not prevail, this cocoon of protective covering will help the pupae to remain inside it for months, and sometimes even years until the conditions are just right.
However, pupae will not break into an adult flea unless it senses a prospective host body through the presence of vibrations, body heat, and the carbon dioxide exhaled from your pets.
Stage Four: Adult
The fourth and final stage is when tiny brown-black insects emerge from these hardened shells. They range from 1.5 to 4 mm in length and are visible to the human eye. Even though they cannot fly, fleas are expert jumpers and hop on to any living host body.
But before doing so fleas are gifted with saliva which prevents the clotting of blood, and so before they start sucking the blood out of an animal, they will release their sticky saliva containing proteins, and avoid the formation of clots to facilitate easy access to their meal. But the proteins in this saliva are no ordinary substances.
They can cause allergic reactions to your pet such as excessive skin rashes or constant loss of fur.
Within 24 hours of consuming her first meal, the adult female flea starts reproducing and can lay up to 2000 eggs in her lifetime. The adult flea begins excreting feces which are mainly undigested clotted blood or any other substance consumed by these insects. It is usually the first indication of a flea infestation.
In case you happen to brush the fur of your pet on a damp piece of white cloth and can notice little brown/black particles emerging from it, you can be assured of the presence of fleas on your pets.
The entire life cycle of fleas begins again unless proper measures are taken to put a stop to it.
Life Cycle of Fleas – Prevention
Regular vacuuming and intensive cleaning of the house will remove the infestation partly as you will mainly be targeting the food source of these pests. Flea-removal powders and medications are also a remedial treatment for your furry friends and will ensure a lasting effect.
It’s not uncommon to be unaware of the entire life cycle of fleas. But once you have a thorough understanding of how the flea life cycle works, you will be better equipped to manage the infestation, and dispense appropriate measures to get rid of these pests from your pets.***
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