Fleas have been around for millions of years sucking the blood of animals and humans. A flea’s life cycle has several stages that undergo a complete metamorphosis. The stages consist of the egg, larval, pupal and the adult. The length in time that each stage takes largely depends on environmental conditions.
Fleas usually lay between four to eight eggs after a meal. Flea eggs can hatch into larva within 12 days on average. The larvae are about 3 to 5.2 mm long and are almost transparent white in color. This stage usually lasts between four to 18 days; where the larvae spin silken cocoons and enter the pupal stage. The pupal stage may be complete within three days or it can last up to a year depending on environmental conditions.
The female lays her eggs, larvae hatch from the eggs that has fallen off an animal or host. Once away from the host, the larvae needs to find a shady area and seeks out cracks in the floor, carpets, in and under furniture to hide until maturity. Flea larvae depend upon temperature; they will not survive in humidity less than 45 to 50 percent or temperatures higher than 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Larvae are about three to five mm long, and have no eyes or legs. Their body is maggot like and whitish. Eventually, the larvae turn darker as it feeds off the feces of adult fleas. Also, larvae will feed off of dead skin, dead insects, and feathers. Unlike adult fleas, larvae do not feed off of blood directly from a host. After the larvae stage, which consists on average between four to 18 days they spin a silken cocoon before entering into the pupal stage. One way to help get rid of fleas from your home is to vacuum frequently to remove and kill larvae.
Adults immediately begin searching for food after emerging from the pupal stage. Females begin laying eggs within 48 hours after their first feed and will usually remain stationary when a host is found. Cold conditions kill eggs before they have a chance of hatching and humidity below 45 percent will kill larvae.
A flea can jump as high as four feet seeking out a blood meal. However they can live without a blood meal for 100 days. The female needs to eat blood in order to lay her eggs. She has the ability to lay 2,000 eggs in her lifetime.
The adults on average are 1/8th of an inch in size and have a flat body from side to side. Because of their piercing mouths that help them suck blood, they are often confused with bed bugs, lice and ticks. Fleas are actually reddish brown but are black in color and wingless.
These insects cause serious diseases such as Plague, Murine Typhus and Tungiasis. Rats that are infested with fleas often carry the bacteria Yersinia Pestis. This bacteria causes the Bubonic Plague, which is usually found in poor countries. Murine Typhus is an infection caused Rickettsia, by rat fleas, otherwise known as Xenopsills Cheopis. Also, Tungiasis causes serious problems to the feet as the female burrows into the feet and breeds there. Their feeding under the skin causes serious infection. Their victim will have to undergo surgery to have them removed. These vampires also transmit Tularemia and tapeworms to human and to pets. Further, fleas cause allergies to both humans and pets.
There are many home remedies to rid your home of fleas. However, it is best recommended to seek out a pest control professional that are knowledgeable about wiping out fleas from your home with the least amount of stress and damage to your home.