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The FLEA Life Cycle



Fleas are blood-feeding parasites found in most regions of the world. The most common flea affecting both dogs and cats is the cat flea. Adult flea bodies are identified by their piercing-sucking mouthparts and wingless bodies, which are flattened from side to side so they can slip between the hairs on their hosts. Cat fleas are considered "permanent ectoparasites," since once they locate a host cat or dog, they do not leave voluntarily. The cycle. It's a trap that most pet owners have fallen into. You think you're getting rid of fleas just by attaching a flea collar to your pet. But the fleas you see aren't the only fleas you need to stop. Because for each adult flea you find on your pet, there are countless more flea eggs, larvae and pupae in your home and yard. The life cycle players. Adults: The cycle starts when an adult flea finds its way to the pet. Once there, it immediately begins feeding on the pet's blood, producing "flea dirt" (feces), mating and laying eggs. The average adult's life span ranges from a few days to a several weeks, depending upon whether it's removed by the pet during self-grooming or killed by flea control products. Eggs: Flea eggs (approximately the size of a grain of salt) are laid on the pet after the female adult has taken a blood meal and mated. Studies show she lays an average of 27 eggs per day – production which can continue over a 100-day period, enabling a single female to lay over 2,000 eggs in her short lifetime. The eggs are dislodged from the pet by shaking and scratching, after which they fall to the ground. Larvae:In 1-10 days, flea eggs hatch into worm-like, rye-seed-sized larvae. Over the course of 5-11 days, they molt twice, becoming larger with each molt. They feed off organic debris and flea dirt which has fallen off the pet. Larvae then crawl downward, away from the light, to a dark, low-traffic area (commonly deep in carpeting below furniture) in which to pupate, or form a cocoon. Pupae: Once they've found a dark location, larvae enter the pupal stage by spinning a cocoon similar to a butterfly's, built with carpet fibers, dust and other environmental debris. If proper conditions exist (heat, pressure, vibration and carbon dioxide stimulation supplied by the pet), an adult flea emerges in approximately 7-10 days. If the pupa does not receive the proper stimuli, it can remain quiet in the cocoon for up to 50 weeks. As a result, pupae emergence can occur over an unpredictable series of weeks or even months. After emerging from their cocoons, new infestations of adult fleas are now ready to keep the cycle going.