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Fleas are reddish-brown to black in colour and vary from 1-4mm in size. 

Fleas jump from host to host up to 800mm at a time. Fleas have tough bodies which protect them from being squashed.

 

There are 3 main types of flea:

Dog fleas live amongst the fur of dogs and can only survive if they remain on the host animal. 

They feed on the blood of their host, but can survive for months without a meal. 

 

Human fleas have a curved head and are wingless and flattened laterally. 1.5-4mm in size and dark brown in colour, they can live for up to one year. 

Human fleas have the ability to survive on many hosts including mammals and birds, but are most commonly found on pigs. 

Their preferred food however is human blood. Their saliva can cause an allergic reaction, or transmit many diseases.

 

Cat Fleas are about 1-3mm long and reddish-brown to black in colour. They have piercing/sucking mouthparts and long, powerful legs. 

Adult fleas can live for up to one year and are mainly found on the domestic cat, but also on dogs. Humans can be bitten but not infested. 

Their eggs are most commonly laid in carpet or soft furniture. Similarly to the dog flea whilst a female needs a blood meal before she can reproduce, 

they can survive months without feeding.

 

The cat flea is by far the most common species in Australia, and ironically is the most likely to be responsible for infecting both dogs and humans.

A female flea will lay eggs on a host which then hatch into larvae and move away into carpets, cracks in floorboards or soil. 

The larvae feed on organic matter and then spin a silk cocoon and enter the pupal stage. If conditions are not favourable larvae can live for 200 days while pupae can lay dormant for up to a year. This explains sudden infestations in areas that have been empty for a period before being re-occupied. 

 

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