The human flea (Pulex irritans), cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) and dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) all cause fundamentally the same harm. One flea prefers humans, and the two others mainly infest cats and dogs.
Fleas grow to a maximum of 4 mm, are coloured either dark- or red-brown and have strong jumping legs. They lay up to 400 eggs in the environment of their hosts. The breeding places are mainly dust and dirt accumulated in crevices, joints and corners.
The thread-like legless larvae are about 5 mm long. They feed on organic materials and the blood-containing excrement of grown fleas. The larvae are found in floor areas, for instance on carpets, under skirting boards and in cracks. They take about 7 to 18 days to develop. A generation of fleas lives for about four to six weeks.
Fleas cause painful bites on human, cats and dogs, and they suck their blood. The cat flea is most widespread, and it can temporarily transfer to humans. Fleas often bite several times in direct succession, until their appetite is satisfied. The itching often lasts for days and sometimes weals form. Fleas can also transmit tapeworms and cause allergies.
Preventive measures and control
- Pets, that is mainly cats and dogs, should be regularly de-infested
- Flea hiding places should be vacuum-cleaned and suitably treated
- Frequent vacuum cleaning and beating helps to stop flea larvae in carpets
- Use insecticides (Crawling Insect Spray)