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Fleas (Latin Siphonaptera - ancient Greek σίφων - pump, ἄπτερον - wingless. Synonyms of Latin Suctoria, Latin Aphaniptera) are a detachment of blood-sucking insects with complete transformation, which are often carriers of various causative agents of human and animal diseases.
Fleas are wingless for the second time. They completely lost their wings in the process of adapting to ectoparasitism in the imaginal phase.
Fleas have a highly specialized oral apparatus designed to pierce the host's integument and suck blood.
Flea body laterally compressed, narrow, smooth, equipped with bristles and thorns, which help to move and stay in the thick wool and between the feathers of the hosts, in the folds of clothing, as well as in the substrate of their nests and burrows. The head and chest often have scalloped ridges (ctenidia).
The size of fleas of different species varies. from 1 to 5 mm, but in females of some species it can reach 10 mm due to hypertrophic growth of the abdomen after the start of feeding.
Antennas are always located behind simple eyes and, at rest, are placed in special recesses - antennae fossa.
Antennas can be used by males to hold the female during copulation... Flea mouth apparatus piercing-sucking type.
It is characterized by the transformation into stylets of epipharyngs (unpaired stylet) and lacinia (paired stylets), articulating with the maxillary lobes.
The lower lip with a pair of labial palps is transformed into a case for proboscis components. Mandibles in adult fleas are completely lost.... The chest is equipped with strong limbs, which provide the insect with rapid movement in the integument of the host, the ability to hold on to rough surfaces at any angle.
They often move by jumping, using the second and especially the third pair of legs for pushing. In the back of the abdomen, behind tergite VIII, there is a peculiar sensory organ available only in fleas - abdominal sensillium, or pygidiumequipped with trichobothria (tactile hairs) and vibrating air.
By the nature of the changes in ploidy, the following are distinguished life cycle types:
- Haplophase: the organism during the whole cycle has a single set of chromosomes (n, haploid); these life cycles are characteristic of many bacteria and protists that do not have a sexual process.
- Haplophase with zygotic reduction: after the formation of a zygote (2n), meiosis occurs, and the remaining stages of the life cycle are haploid (this life cycle is typical for many green and other algae, as well as most other groups of protists and fungi).
- Diplophase with gametic reduction: all stages of the life cycle are diploid (2n), only the gametes are haploid (n) - the life cycle characteristic of multicellular animals.
- Haplo-diplophase: both at the diploid and haploid stages, mitotic divisions occur, leading to reproduction or growth, and there are diploid and haploid generations in the life cycle - a life cycle with intermediate (spore) reduction, characteristic of all higher plants, as well as for foraminifera and some other protists.
By the number of generations (ontogenesis) in the life cycle:
- Plain: the cycle includes one generation.
- Complicated: the cycle includes two or more generations; such a life cycle is typical, for example, for many cnidarians (alternation of generations of polyps and jellyfish), for most trematodes (alternation of generations of marites, sporocysts, and redia).
It should be immediately understood that fleas are insects that are parasites on the skin and hairliving near you animals. They are used to sucking the blood of rabbits, cats, dogs, chickens, parrots, hamsters and rats.
However, the worst thing is that these small creatures are capable of causing harm directly to humans... With the help of a special piercing-sucking apparatus, the flea pierces an inconspicuous hole on the surface of its host's skin and is saturated with its blood.
Signs by which you can recognize an insect are a smooth body that has a narrow texture and is somewhat flattened on the sides... It is also worth paying attention to the bristles and small spines, which are located throughout the body and serve so that the flea has the ability to move and stay on the fur of its victim.
The insect's head and chest are covered with so-called serrated combs or ktendii... As for the size of an adult, it ranges from 1 to 5 millimeters. And females that have had time to get enough sometimes reach 10 millimeters in length.
The flea's head is equipped with special antennas, which, if unnecessary, hide in antenna pits, and when insects go hunting, they reappear in order to find the most vulnerable spot.
How many legs does a flea have? The flea makes its jumps with the help three pairs of sufficiently strong pawsthat are located on the belly. The sensory organ, which is located on the back of the body, is designed to instantly pick up air fluctuations in the environment.
Today, there are about 1000 species of these insects. It is also interesting that the representatives of this family often devoid of visual organs or have the simplest manifestations of it.
More about such species as: human, earthen, bed, grass.
The study of the vital activity of fleas and the characteristics of their body is possible only with the help of a microscope. The largest collection of copies is in the British Museum. It was collected in Tring by scientists N. Rothschild and K. Jordan.
What does a flea look like, close-up photo:
Where do fleas live?
A very large number of flea species are determined by suitable climatic conditions. It is widely believed that the number of fleas varies depending on the season.
When the cold season sets in, the number rarely decreases, and vice versa, - with the arrival of warmth, insects actively reproduce. The hot months of summer seem to be especially active in this regard.
The greatest danger is the fleas that live in the apartment and are able to harm them. Fleas often live in rodent burrows.... As for residential premises, they are most often found in small cracks on the floor, under bedspreads and in dusty places where a person is not able to penetrate.
Find out where fleas come from in the house?
Remarkable is the fact that a female flea is capable of laying about 400 eggs in her entire life.
The fight against this misfortune should start with a number of special measures that can stop the reproduction process and render harmless individuals already born. If there are animals in the house, then it is necessary to process their wool with special means.
Especially for these purposes, in zoo pharmacies are sold shampoos and various preparations... A very good helper in this matter - pyrethrum, which veterinarians strongly recommend to treat the hair of cats and dogs.
They can also handle all possible places where pests can accumulate directly in the home. Folk remedies include sweeping floors with a wormwood broom... A flea collar is also actively used.
Adults are different from many other insects. quite active lifestyle, which is marked by periodic settlements on the body of the victim in order to receive recharge for further life.
What do fleas eat? These parasites drink blood. It is worth noting that when they are full, they most often leave the object and are looking for a new owner, which makes these insects potential carriers of various diseases.
Blokham enough to get enough once a day, however, if this process is interrupted for any reason, then they are forced to look for another source of replenishment.
How long can fleas survive without food? If there is no way to find a source of food, then without food a flea can last for a week, or even a month... As for the host, these parasites rather unpretentious.
Individuals that live on cats, without much embarrassment, can use the blood of a dog or a person. However, it will be fair to note that fleas living on bats will never jump on mammals.
Read more about the danger of fleas for pets and people here.
Flea behavior and detection
Fleas are enough active and very well aware of the approach of danger thanks to the sensory organs that capture the slightest shuddering of the air. This is why the flea almost impossible to neutralize with bare hands.
It is highly likely that she will move to another owner and continue to feed on his blood. It should also not be forgotten that most fleas are not on the animal itself, but in its environment, which complicates the process of fighting the pest.
By purchasing a drug for the extermination of parasites in a zoo pharmacy, do not forget to inquire about the level of their toxicity to the animal and specify the period of its validity.
As you know, it is easier to prevent than to cure later. Special collars for animals that are impregnated with insecticides will help you with this.
How long does a flea live?
The optimal temperature regime for the development of a flea is 18 - 27 degrees, and the most suitable humidity is 70 - 100%. In such conditions, a flea grows in 20 - 49 days.
If the humidity drops below 60%, then the larva stops the development process, and in the water they completely die.
Interestingly, if environmental conditions cannot be called favorable, then the period when the flea remains clogged in a cocoon can be significantly long.
The main part of fleas are temporary parasites that use pets and humans only to get enough in order to continue their life.
Complete metamorphosis - this is how fleas develop. This means that, first, a larva emerges from the egg that the adult hatches. Then this larva turns into a pupa. The larvae do not become a great danger and unable to harm.
This is only a transitional stage, the ultimate goal of which is an adult insect, which in the scientific world is called an imago. It is these latter that support their vital activity, feeding on the blood of animals and people.
An adult flea produces eggs that have a dry surface, and usually fall into the insect's nest or on the floor. The larvae that emerge from the eggs after a while whitish in color and have no legs or organs of vision.
They can be seen in cracks in floor coverings or in carpets. If their direct bearer lives in the basement, then attention should be paid, first of all, to heaps of garbage and various master's trash.
Flea larvae that threaten cats, dogs and humans sometimes settle on green lawns... There they have the opportunity to receive replenishment from the sap of plants.
Also, they are thus protected from the harmful effects of sunlight. Very often, the owners of farms where pigs are bred become victims of fleas.
The period of egg development ranges from a few days to several weeks. depending on environmental conditions. The life cycle of the larva is approximately two to four weeks.
When this period ends, the larva begins the construction of a spider cocoon, which becomes its refuge until the time comes for rebirth into an adult flea, capable of foraging for itself.
Learn more about flea breeding.
In a sealed state, an insect can stay up to several months.... It often happens that even an imago does not want to crawl out of the protective cocoon and does this only when he senses a potential victim.
Harm to man
The main impetus for the study of fleas was the fact that they are capable of carrying the plague.
In modern conditions, the reason that forces us to consider this problem with special attention is the inconvenience caused by fleas to people and pets. it can even lead to real illness (for details on whether fleas are dangerous to humans and what diseases they carry, read here).
It is also scary that fleas sometimes are intermediate carriers of some types of wormsthat can seriously disrupt the functioning of some human organs and lead to the loss of a significant amount of nutrients. Probably no one will be delighted to hear that fleas carry deadly infections.
Sometimes in a house inhabited by pets, so many fleas are bred that people simply cannot withstand their invasion. This fact can quite strongly affect the nervous system of the owners of the house. In addition, a reaction is possible that appears on the skin.
Very often the bite site becomes inflamed and swelling forms.... Itching and discomfort is caused by flea saliva injected under the skin during a bite. You will not envy those people who have flea bites cause a terrible allergy... It is not in vain that scientists have invented a special antigen to overcome its consequences.
Learn what to do with baby bites and how to relieve itching?
There are times when a fertilized female settles under the host's skin. As an example, we can designate a sand flea, due to which wounds and sores that are prone to suppuration often appear on the body.
Sucked fleas are not limited to single manifestations, but prone to the formation of entire colonies on the heads of birds or cat ears.
Another dangerous parasite - the pumpkin tapeworm uses a flea as an intermediate host and may, at an opportunity, move into the human body and lead to the development of helminthiasis.
An equally dangerous disease that fleas can spread is endemic typhus, the potential victims of which are residents of port cities.
It is interesting that adult fleas infected with a certain infection do not transmit it to their offspring, but they themselves are able to remain carriers of dangerous diseases throughout their lives.
Tularemia, erysipeloid, pseudotuberculosis, brucellosis, melioidosis, pasteurellosis, anthrax - this is not a complete list of those diseases that fleas can bestow on a person.