Besides on our pets, it isn’t uncommon to find fleas on humans. Pets are more desirable hosts, and we, humans, tend to be more the means of transportation than host for them, but if there’s nothing furrier around, they don’t mind feasting on us.
These bloodsucking parasites have existed for over 55 million years. They once had wings (today only the oldest of 2000 species, the snow flea, still has wings), but they gave them up in favor of an incredibly powerful hop: they aren’t very big, usually between 1/16 and 1/8 inch, but their legs are long, with the hind pair perfectly adapted for jumping – vertically a flea can jump up to 7 inches, and up to 13 inches horizontally. If you compare the length of their hop to their own length, you can easily see that a flea is one of the best jumpers in the world. Pretty impressive, right?
There are billions of those blood sucking parasites that feed on your cats and dogs and you, too, if all else fails. There are more than 2400 species of fleas worldwide, and almost all of them are really tiny -- usually less than 3/16 of an inch long. The female of the species routinely consumes 15 times her body weight in blood (the flea’s favorite meal) every day. this very high protein diet enables her to lay about 25 eggs every 24 hours or so, or between 600 and 800 eggs in her lifetime. Some have speculated that in just 30 days, ten adult female fleas on old Fido could produce a quarter of a million offspring. That would fill a lot of flea circuses.
Fleas are amazing little critters. They can jump seven or eight inches up in the air, and jump more than a foot horizontally. Fleas don’t eat only when they are hungry. In fact, they are absolute gluttons, and will continue to bite its host until they can’t eat any more. There is a reason they do this and it is critical to the survival of a flea’s life cycle.