When your furry family members start scratching like crazy, you know something is wrong. There’s a chance that they’ve been attacked by fleas. With several species in the world, it’s important to know how to identify them. We’ve made a list of the most common types of fleas.
Fleas are parasites who feed on the blood of their hosts. They will choose a variety of hosts, most often determined by availability. They are found throughout the United States and the rest of the world. Fleas have a dark-reddish brown body that can grow between 1/12″ and 1/6″ long. In their lifetime, they can produce 400-500 offspring. When they find a host, they jump onto it using their 6 legs. They can actually jump 150 times the length of their body. Fleas can’t fly and will typically remain on its host as long as it can. These bugs can leave their hosts with itchy, red bumps as a result of their feeding.
Cat Fleas (Ctenocephalides felis)
Cat fleas are the most common house flea. They are found worldwide, and cats and dogs are their preferred host. However, they will also use other hosts including foxes, rats, and opossums. Though they prefer animal hosts, they will bite humans out of necessity. These fleas are brownish-black or black. When fed, their body can turn a reddish hue. They are flat bugs and typically 1/8″ long. Females have a noticeably small head compared to the rest of their body. Its body is usually twice as long as it is high. Females lay between 4-8 eggs after feeding. Eggs will be placed between the hairs of the host or in their nests or bedding. Their eggs are .5 mm, white, and are oval-shaped. Eggs hatch within two days. If they bite, they can leave you with itchy, swollen, red bumps.
Dog Fleas (Ctenocephalides canis)
Dog fleas are commonly found in homes. However, they are not as widespread as cat fleas. Like their name suggests, dogs are one of their preferred hosts, but they also gravitate toward rabbits. If they find human hosts, they will jump onto them too. These fleas can be found worldwide. Dog fleas are very similar to cat fleas. They have brownish-black bodies that can turn red after a feeding. They are usually 1/8″ long with a flat body. Like cat fleas, they have smaller heads. Their eggs are tiny, clear and oval-shaped. Adult fleas will lay them in between the hair of their host. The eggs are clustered together and hatch quickly. Dog flea bites can cause small, red bumps that are itchy.
Oriental Rat Fleas (Xenopsylla cheopis)
Oriental rat fleas are also called tropical rat fleas. Rodents are their primary host. They are particularly fond of Norway rats. However, they can feed on other warm-blooded creatures. These fleas have a light to dark brown body. Like other fleas, they will turn red after feeding. They grow up to 1/10″ long. Females have noticeable dark sacs on their abdomen. Unlike cat and dog fleas, they lack genal and pronotal combs. These are rows of spines that are found below or behind a flea’s head. Oriental rat fleas can be found worldwide. They don’t typically infest homes or pets. However, because they travel on mice, rats, and even rabbits, they can end up in your yard. These fleas will live on their host and in their host’s nest. They have small, oval-shaped, white eggs.
Human Fleas (Pulex irritans)
Human fleas are found worldwide, but they aren’t as frequently encountered. They are native to South and Central America and tend to prefer temperate climates. While they are known to feed on humans, they will have a variety of hosts. The most common ones are rats and pigs. Human fleas have reddish-brown bodies and grow between 1-4mm. Females are usually larger than males. Like oriental rat fleas, they don’t have genal and pronotal combs. They have oval, white eggs that are about .5mm. These fleas can be found in the nest of their hosts and throughout a human’s home. The eggs can also be found on the actual host as well as in their nest or home. Their bites often cause itchy, swollen red bumps.
Chigoe Flea (Tunga penetrans)
Chigoe Fleas are also referred to as jiggers. They are often found in tropical and subtropical places including Central and South America. They aren’t very common in the United States. However, they are sometimes carried to different locations by hosts. These fleas are one of the smallest and are usually less than 1 mm in length. These fleas have reddish-brown bodies. Humans and pigs are their primary hosts, but they will also use other warm-blooded creatures as a host. When female chigoe fleas bite, they burrow into the skin of the host. They won’t leave until they are physically removed. Their presence isn’t always noticed immediately. However, it can lead to painful swelling in the area where the flea is located.
There are ways to prevent fleas from invading your home. It’s important to have a well-maintained yard. Make sure to keep your grass trimmed. Since rodents are a common host for fleas, it’s important they don’t find your home inviting. Keep your yard free from trash and food. Cleaning inside is also important. Vacuuming frequently can help eliminate fleas and their eggs from your space. If you have pets, make sure you are protecting them. Regularly bathe and groom them and stay up to date on their veterinarian appointments. If you choose to use a flea treatment on your pet, it’s very important to follow the instructions.
Flea infestations are most often discovered by the sighting of fleas. When they are adults, they are easily spotted. Your pet’s actions can also alert you to a problem. If your pets are scratching, biting, or licking more often than usual, fleas could be the cause. You may also notice bites on them or on yourself. If fleas have left you with bites, don’t scratch them. Wash and clean the bite area with soap and water. You can use an ice pack, antihistamine, or hydrocortisone to help alleviate the symptoms. If fleas are giving you a fit, there are ways to eliminate them. To take care of fleas in your yard, our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Yard Bug Spray will kill and repel fleas. In your home, try our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Home Bug Spray and Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Bed Bug & Flea Killer aerosol. They are a more environmentally and family-friendly pest control solution.Fleas aren’t just a problem for pet owners. Whether they are targeting animals or you, they can become a serious problem. Knowing how to identify them is one of the first steps to controlling the problem. If pests are invading your home, check out our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Pest Control products.