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Tiny Jumping Insects Bugging Your Pet

Fleas are the number one pest irritating family pets and their owners the world over. Let's explore some interesting flea facts — knowing about fleas is half the battle in preventing them!

• There are at least 2000 known species of fleas in the world, covering all habitats from the nearctic to the tropics.

• The most common flea infesting domestic cats and dogs across the globe is the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis.

• Even prehistoric Inuit living on ice and snow weren't safe from fleas. They devised a clever tool for finding fleas in clothing and bedding. They discovered that fleas were attracted to animal fur, and so they tied a tuft of polar bear fur to the end of a stick, and used this to swab the insides of clothing.

• The average flea is tiny at about 1/16" to 1/8" (1.5 to 3.3 mm) long.

• The largest known flea is Hystrichopsylla schefferi, a flea specific to mountain beavers. There have been recorded specimens of this flea reaching almost 1/2" (12 mm)!

• In just about all species of flea, the female is larger than the male.

• Fleas aren't just a nuisance, resulting in itchy bites. The Black Rat Flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) was responsible for spreading the bubonic plague in Britain. Fleas are also the vectors for the bacteria causing typhus and the parasitic tapeworm.

• Adult fleas are hematophagous, meaning that they suck and eat blood from a warm-blooded vertebrate host.

• Flea larvae are completely blind and spend their time hiding from light. Within the home they can be found in carpets searching for adult flea feces as well as shed skin, hairs and feathers to eat.

• Fleas require a certain temperature and humidity to successfully develop into adults. Temperatures below 70 degrees F and very low humidity can reduce the number of adult fleas by 95%. Temperature and humidity control in addition to flea sprays, powders and shampoo are critical in fighting a flea infestation.

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