Fleas

Fleas

Appearance
The Cat Flea is about 2 mm in length, and is laterally compressed in shape and mahogany in colour.  Its head is smoothly rounded with prominent black eyes.  The flea has long, strong hind legs for jumping.

Life Cycle
The flea goes through complete metamorphous.  The stages are Egg-Larva-Pupa-Adult.

The female Cat Flea lays fairly large eggs, 1 mm in length, they are oval and white and translucent.  She lays about 1000 eggs; although they are slightly sticky the eggs invariably fall off the host and into bedding areas and hatch 2-3 days later.  White, legless larvae appear and begin feeding on a variety of materials, including any animal protein debris they can find.  Especially the blood rich excreta of the adult fleas.  The flea larvae shed their skins 2 or 3 times over a 3 to 4 week period, eventually spinning a flimsy silken cocoon near their feeding area.  This may be in the cracks of floorboards in houses and is often in and amongst the bedding of the host animal.

The adult flea usually starts to appear from the pupae within about a month.  Both male and female adult fleas feed off prolifically from the host that need not be cats but include dogs, small rodents and possibly any other small mammals.  Although the female adult cat flea needs the blood of its true host to lay viable eggs.  In the interim it is not adverse for them to feed off humans, generally around the ankles and lower legs.

Diet
The adult cat flea feeds off the blood of its host, it will also feed off dogs, small rodents and possibly any other small mammals.  It is also known for them to feed off humans.

Problems Associated with Fleas
Cat fleas readily try to feed on almost any warm-blooded animal.  Some people are bothered by the sensation of fleas walking on their skin, but bites are the major nuisance.  Bites tend to be concentrated on the lower legs but can also occur on other parts of the body.  The bite consists of a small, central red spot surrounded by a red halo, usually without excessive swelling.  Fleabites usually cause minor itching but may become increasingly irritating to people with sensitive or reactive skin.  Some people and pets suffer from fleabite allergic dermatitis, characterised by intense itching, hair loss, reddening of the skin, and secondary infection.  Just one bite may initiate an allergic reaction, and itching may persist up to 5 days after the bite.  Cat fleas may also serve as intermediary hosts of dog tapeworms.  Cats or dogs may acquire this intestinal parasite while grooming themselves by ingesting adult fleas that contain a cyst of the tapeworm.