Fleas feed off the blood of humans and animals such as dogs and cats. There is a different species specialising in each of these hosts, however all species can cross-feed between hosts.
A flea bite is intensely itchy, can cause large swellings, and secondary infections are common from both the bite and the subsequent tissue damage from scratching.
Treatment options include anaesthetic creams and icepacks to reduce the swelling.
Fleas can transmit disease including tapeworm larvae and mouse typhus. Cross-host feeding fleas can readily transfer diseases between hosts.
Flea Life Cycle:
Fleas do not have wings at any stage of their development.
Eggs hatch to form larvae which then pupate before finally developing to mature adults.
Adult fleas can survive for some months without feeding, and females tend to lay eggs immediately following feeding.
The eggs are light coloured and oval shaped.
Larvae cocoon themselves within weeks of hatching.
Vibration, such as footsteps, prompts adult fleas to emerge from their cocoons. This is why you may be bitten after entering a house that has been unoccupied for some time.
Fleas uses their saw-like mandibles to cut through skin, usually on accessible parts of the body such as the legs or feet. Like most blood-sucking parasites, their saliva contains anticoagulants to encourage the blood to keep flowing.