Ctenocephalides Felis (Bouche)
Fleas are one of the more important groups of insect pests because they not only cause discomfort by biting, but they can transmit several diseases. Cat fleas are found throughout the United States and the rest of the world.
Adults about 1/8″. Wings lacking. Body laterally flattened (side to side). Color brownish black to black. Females lay 4-8 eggs after each blood meal, laying some 400-500 during their lifetime. Eggs are oval, whitish, and about 1/64″ long. They usually hatch in 1-12 days. Flea larvae feed on organic debris but almost all require dried fecal blood in order to complete development; they do not bite but feed on adult flea fecal blood. Larvae require high relative humidity (45-95°). Adults usually begin to seek a blood meal on the second day after emergence, but can live for several months on stored body fat. Once on a host, they tend to spend all of their time on the host, feeding, mating, and laying eggs, unless dislodged. Although they have a preferred host, they will readily bite people and can survive using other species as hosts. Depending on conditions, they can survive up to a year. It is not necessary to have pets in the building in order to have fleas present.
Fleas are most protected from traditional insecticides during the pupal stage. Fleas develop into adults and remain in their cocoons until conditions are conducive to successful reproduction. This intermediate stage is termed the “pre-emergent adult.” When conditions are right for successful reproduction, adult fleas emerge from the cocoons and begin the cycle again. One female cat flea can lay between 158 to 420 eggs in her life time. Some estimates are higher.
Time to development for each stage of the flea life cycle:
|Eggs||1.5 – 6 days||55 – 90|
|Larva||4 – 8 days||80 – 90|
|Pupa||7 – 10 days||—|
|Pre-adult||4 – 20 weeks||52 – 90|
|Total Life Cycle||6 – 27 weeks|
Flea control requires removal of fleas from the pet, removal of fleas from the environment, and control of the life cycle of the flea.
Insect growth regulators, or IGRs, are a safe preventative treatment for fleas. These products work by disrupting the normal development of flea eggs and larvae. When exposed to IGRs, adult fleas are unable to reproduce; eggs fail to hatch and larvae die before they complete their development. Because most IGRs kill only eggs and larvae, they do not eliminate adult fleas quickly. For this reason, they are usually mixed with a mild insecticide. Always read and follow label directions for safe use of any pesticide.
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