The cat flea is a close relative of flea and dog fleas, from which it differs in some features of appearance and size. An ordinary person, poorly versed in entomology, is unlikely to notice the differences between these related parasites.
However, in general, poor knowledge of the biology of fleas and their way of life can sometimes have very undesirable consequences, for the reason that cat fleas carry many dangerous diseases to humans. Statistics show that only 1 out of 10 people have a more or less correct idea of how these parasites multiply and what their essential differences are, for example, from withers and lice.
On a note
So-called cat lice and cat fleas are completely different insects, rarely found on one animal. They clearly differ in appearance, but even more differences in their way of life: the cat louse constantly lives on the animal, the flea only jumps on it for feeding. But for a person it's important that lice cats can not change their host and live only on cats, but cat fleas are dangerous for humans - they easily attack him.
Here are some photos of feline fleas :
In most cases, in cities and villages people and pets are attacked by cat fleas. This species is one of the most common and numerous in domestic animals in general, and is able to feed on the blood of the largest number of hosts: from rodents to humans. And cats for him are not always the main owner ...
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If cat fleas attack rats, they compete here with rat fleas and in most cases displace the latter.
How does a cat flea look: look under a microscope
Cat fleas look like very small dark-colored insects, which literally appear for a moment among the animal's hair and immediately hide in the wool. A cat flea on a man is more noticeable, if only because he can not hide in his hair, and prefers biting precisely for the hairless parts of the body - legs, buttocks, back and stomach. Here it looks like a tiny shiny insect, which is very difficult to catch - fleas jumping well for distances up to 30 cm.
Below the photo shows a cat flea on the human body:
On a note
From the place where the flea begins to jump, it disappears almost instantly - the human eye is unable to keep track of the movement of the insect at such a speed. So the fleas create a peculiar deception of sight: it seems that the insect simply disappeared.
Cat fleas are very small insects. The length of their body, depending on the age, is from 0.8 to 4 mm, more often - 2-3 mm. Coloration - dark brown with a distinctly visible luster.
Next on the photo - a cat flea under a microscope:
And in the next photo - cat fleas in wool of an animal:
Feline fleas do not have wings, but there are very powerful jogging hind legs that provide their ability to jump over long distances. The body of insects is compressed from sides and stretched to the height. This is an adaptive mechanism:
- thanks to him, the flea can quickly and dexterously move among the hairs in the host's coat
- flat solid body is more difficult to crush by mechanical squeezing
- The flat body experiences less resistance to air during the jump.
It is interesting
Dense integument of the body and flattened form very effectively protect the feline fleas from crushing: for example, even after catching an insect, it is impossible to crush it with the pads of the fingers, and a nail should be used for destruction. Partly thanks to this invulnerability, parasites do not mask their bites with anesthetic enzymes: the flea bites very painfully.
From close species - rat and canine - the cat flea is slightly smaller in size. In addition, in the rat flea, the posterior part of the body is slightly tucked up, and the dog's head is large. But it is very difficult to make out such details with the naked eye (see photo):
Lifestyle and reproduction of the cat flea
Cat fleas are active ectoparasites of mammals. They live in places of accumulation of garbage, under stones and bunches of dry grass, nests of wild animals in nature. In a person's house or in economic buildings, cat fleas often settle in the litter on which the pet is sleeping, under the carpets, behind the skirting boards, in the corners with the accumulation of garbage ( although many incorrectly believe that fleas live only on animals ). In such secluded places, parasites rest and multiply.
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Cat fleas are spread all over the globe and are found on rodents even on remote tropical islands.
A hungry parasite begins to look for a warm-blooded animal for feeding. The flea focuses with the help of large eyes and smell, attacking the first victim, which will be within its reach, whether it is a cat, a dog, a rat or a person. Zaprygnuv on the victim, the flea makes its way to the animal's skin and makes a few bites. After this, the parasite jumps off the animal and hides in a convenient place.
Cat fleas can fast for a long time, and they need blood first of all for the maintenance of the reproductive cycle. The female, not saturated with blood, eggs do not develop.
If the insect is full, a few hours after the meal the female starts laying eggs.
With a very strong infection of the animal's shelter, a large number of parasites can lead to the development of anemia and exhaustion in the victim's bites, and sometimes bring her to death.
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A female flea does not delay, but literally shoots eggs from the abdomen. This is a kind of adaptation to the spread of eggs to the greatest possible distance: the larvae fall into different conditions, where the chances of surviving at least a few of them will be greater.
A few days later, the larvae emerge from the flea eggs, similar to white transparent worms, which feed on various organic remains - litter in the nest of the animal, slices of its skin and excrement of adult fleas with blood preserved in them. Larvae develop from several days to several weeks, depending on the temperature of the surrounding air and the abundance of food, after which they pupate. After 1-3 weeks, an adult insect emerges from the pupa.
Below the photo shows the eggs and larvae of the cat flea:
On a note
At the pupal stage, fleas can winter in the mid-winter conditions of Russia in the cold. Their development at these temperatures stops, and fleas from pupae come out only during spring warming.
The cycle of reproduction from egg to egg in a feline flea under suitable conditions lasts about 10 days. Such a high speed is observed only at high temperatures and abundant food. Sometimes due to frost and lack of food, the cycle can last up to 2 years.
Are cat fleas dangerous for humans?
Cat fleas are dangerous to humans. They carry the pathogens of dangerous diseases - brucellosis, plague, encephalitis, salmonellosis, hepatitis - and can cause epidemics.
But even the bites of cat fleas are very painful and cause irritation of the skin, itching, rashes, and when combing - pustular inflammation. Together, all these symptoms in medicine are called pulicosis and are considered a parasitic disease.
It can not be said that man is the most preferred victim for feline fleas. However, because of its relatively small mobility and large body size, it often comes to the eyes of fleas inhabiting living quarters, and therefore it is often bitten.
In the photo below, a flea on the human body at the time of the bite:
How to deal with feline fleas?
Because of the rather specific way of life, fighting with cat fleas can be difficult.
To reliably remove the feline fleas from the apartment, it is necessary:
- To treat antiparasitic preparations of pets, on which adult insects may be present. To do this, you can use insecticidal sprays, collars, shampoos, as well as special drops on the withers.
- Etch from fleas all the room in which they were found. This can be done with special medicines such as Combat, Raptor, Executioner, Get, and others. Today, especially popular are insecticide concentrates, from which a solution of the desired concentration is prepared and then sprayed from a conventional atomizer through the apartment.
- In places where flea larvae can persist, insecticide dusts should also be spread.
It is important to remember that often fleas enter the apartment or house on pets. Therefore, taking care of protecting the premises from parasites, it is on their pets that the presence of fleas should be checked first.
Getting rid of feline fleas in an apartment is only half the problem, but to prevent them from re-entering the room is, at times, much more difficult. To do this, keep clean in the house, in the summer, wear pet collars on pets, regularly wash and shake out bedding and rugs.
Such, though troublesome, but effective measures will provide a sufficient degree of reliability to protect the premises from fleas.