Strictly speaking, such an insect, like elk flea, entomologists, do not know. Among the existing types of fleas, elk fleas are absent, and even near animals, such as deer and roe deer, their own species of fleas are absent.
But on the moose and other ungulate taiga, a whole series of bloodsucking insects can really parasitize: here are the fleas that we are familiar with, and bloodsucking parasites from completely different orders.
In the people of all the crawling and leaping bloodsucking parasites that harass the large taiga animals and sometimes attack humans, they are often called moose fleas. Among them:
- goat fleas, more common on roe deer than in moose
- alakurt, parasitic mainly on sheep, but capable of attacking larger ungulates
- deer bloodsuckers are parasitic flies, after falling on the wool of an elk or a deer losing wings and passing to permanent habitation on the host's body.
The first two types of insects are typical fleas: their biology and appearance are similar to cat and rat fleas . The deer bloodsucking is just a fly, but because it is often met with crawling in the wool, it was also dubbed a flea.
Let's take a closer look at all these insects and find out what kind of danger they can present to a person and how to protect them.
Alakurt, or sheep flea
Alakurth is known primarily to the shepherds of the Altai and Sayan highland pastures. This large flea feels well mostly in the dense and long wool of domestic sheep, but parasitologists have found it in wild roes and gazelles.
The alakurt is especially noteworthy for its size - females with developing eggs can reach a length of 10-12 mm! Because of the greatly increasing in size and lightening abdomen, locals call this parasite a "white worm".
Alacurts can live on animals in large quantities. A distinctive feature of these fleas is that they are present on the host's body constantly, which distinguishes them from other representatives of the flea squad.
It is interesting
Most species of fleas are parasitic on animals that have a permanent bed or shelter. It is in the nest of the host that parasites spend most of the time and multiply. Such species include rat, rabbit, feline, canine and some other fleas.
But those types of fleas that parasitize ungulate animals are forced to adapt to the constant presence on the host's body - deer, moose, fallow deer, gazelle and other ungulates rarely return to the same place for an overnight stay, and therefore the chances of a flea after rest the owner in a large forest or on a steppe pasture is not large. As a result, the lifestyle of these types of fleas becomes similar to the lifestyle of lice, constantly inhabiting their master.
In some cases, with serious infection, alakurt can lead to the weakening of the animal and even its death. For a person, this flea is not dangerous, and the cases of its attack on people are unknown.
Goat fleas can also attack deer and moose.
They can also bite a person. These insects differ little from canine and feline fleas, and therefore, when hit on a person's body, they do not attract special attention to themselves.
Deer bloodsucking, its appearance and way of life
The reindeer is a large and quite mobile fly. It is also called elk mite, elk flea or deer lice. It has a characteristic enough "strong physique" and strong legs, the length of its body is 3-4 mm.
In the photo - elk flea in the period of constant parasitism on the host:
The whole life of elk flea is divided into two stages. The first is the search for the owner. It begins with the hatching of the fly from the puparium - a kind of pupa in which the insect survives the winter and develops during the spring and summer. In the central part of Russia, the majority of young deer bloodsuckers appear in August-September, but in general, the period of release of young individuals stretches from June to November.
A young fly lies in wait for the future owner on the branches of a bush or in the grass.
Having seen or smelling the victim, the insect slowly flies to him (bloodsuckers are unimportant flyers), and having fallen on the wool, firmly clings to it and after a while drops its wings. The second stage of the parasite's life begins - nutrition and reproduction.
The bloodsucker is characterized by life in pairs - the male and the female, having met on the animal, are always near. So, if on a dog after a walk through the forest there is one fly, then with a high probability somewhere in the wool you can find the second one.
After mating, the female begins to actively eat, and in its uterus one by one develops one larva. For the bloodsucker is characteristic live birth - the female gives birth to the formed and developed pupa, which, having fallen to the ground, hardens and will continue its development only in half a year - in the spring.
In the animal's fur, flies are active in winter, continuing to put off pupary. As a rule, by the spring parasites perish.
Below is a picture of a winged moose flea:
Elk fleas attack animals and humans only during the day when they can see the victim. Especially often they attack hunters when they are handling a seriously contaminated carcass of moose or deer.
Bites of fleas that parasitize on elks and deer
The bite of a moose flea is very painful, especially for a person unfamiliar. Those who often go to the forest and are attacked by mosquitoes, sometimes do not even feel the bites of a bloodsucker.
It is interesting
Female bloodsuckers in order to give birth every few days on the developed larva, should suck the host's blood 15-20 times a day, every hour and a half. For one bite, the insect sucks 0.5-1.5 mg of blood. The male feeds less intensively.
In some of the animals shot, hunters found up to 1000 moose fleas - every hour such an army of parasites sucks the blood of the animal, and besides, constantly leaves itchy bites that can become infected with bacteria and dig up. Quite often the bloodsuckers bring the sick animals to full exhaustion.
If we talk about the danger to humans, it is worth noting that elk fleas attack almost exclusively on adults. Children are less "interesting" to them - perhaps, the size of the victim plays a role here.
According to some estimates, hunters in the forest sometimes attacked up to 100 parasites per minute. In this case, the fly tries to get under the clothes or into the hair. Remove it from the surface of the skin is difficult because of the small size and flat body.
At the site of the bite of a flea-flea, a red stain appears in a person, and a little later - a characteristic papule. Sometimes after this, itching occurs, but rashes and an allergic reaction are usually not observed.
Elk fleas can not tolerate pathogens that are dangerous to humans.
It is noteworthy that the more a person bites a bloodsucker, the more he reacts to their subsequent attacks.
How to avoid bites of elk fleas?
Avoiding the attack of a bloodsucker in the forest is almost impossible. If an insect has seen or felt a person, it will necessarily fly up to it. But to ensure that the parasite does not hit the skin and does not bite - it is quite possible.
To do this, you should:
- wear clothes that cover the whole body;
- tuck pants into shoes or socks;
- to use mosquito net;
- use powerful repellents based on DETA. The content of the DETA in them should be at least 20%, preferably - up to 100%. Feeling this substance, flies do not dare to bite.
It is very useful to go to the forest with a partner who will regularly check hair and neck for elks fleas and other parasites. By the way, in the forest it is useful to check each other and on the subject of sucking ticks.
After a stay in the forest, especially - after a successful hunt - you should take a bath and wash your body and head with tar soap. This will remove from him already settled bloodsucker.