Understanding Dog Fleas: How Fleas Breed & Affect Your Dog's
Fleas belong to the insect order Siphonaptera. They are common pests and may attack many mammals, including man. They can be a year round problem because they infest not only pets but also the home of the owner. Because of this, treatment of the pet alone may only temporarily solve a flea infestation.
Although many species of fleas feed primarily on one type of animal, the common cat and dog flea will readily take blood from a variety of animals, including man. Flea infestations of pets and their homes will most likely involve the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis and occasionally the dog flea, C. canis.
Fleas are small (2 to 4 mm in length), brownish to black insects which are characteristically flattened from side to side. Adults are wingless and capable of jumping relatively long distances. Adults feed exclusively on blood with their piercing-sucking mouthparts. When not actively feeding, adult fleas often hide in locations frequented by the host animal such as your dog bedding, sofas, or carpeted areas.
The common cat and dog fleas breed throughout the year. After feeding and mating, the female deposits her eggs, usually on the host. Several eggs are laid daily and up to several hundred over a lifetime. Eggs normally fall off the host into bedding material or similar areas and hatch within two weeks.
Flea eggs accumulate in areas where the host spends most of its time. In addition, adult fleas defecate small pellets of digested blood which also drop off into the environment. A flea comb will often gather this fecal matter at the base of the tines providing a good sign of flea infestation. The combination of white flea eggs and black dried blood specks may appear as a sprinkling of salt and pepper where an infested animal has slept.
Fleas undergo complete metamorphosis, that is, they pass through four developmental stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Immature fleas do not resemble adults at all.
Flea larvae are tiny, light colored, and, worm-like, without legs. They feed primarily on various debris and organic material including the droppings of the adults which contains digested blood. Flea larvae occur indoors and outdoors, wherever the eggs have fallen off the host. In houses, flea larvae live in carpeting, furniture, animal bedding and other protected areas with high humidity. Flea larvae also live outdoors in areas where animals spend time such as under porches in and around dog houses, etc.
Because flea larvae depend on the adult