Fleas (Siphonaptera)

Greek "siphon" (tube,pipe) + "aptera" (no wings)

Fleas are wingless insects whose mouthparts are adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. They are parasites, they all feed on blood, mostly from mammals (a small number feed on birds). Fleas can survive for months without a host, unlike lice. They have a hard covering and strong hind legs for jumping. Flea larvae are wormlike with short bristles. The larvae rarely live on the host - they live in the host's nest or bed and feed on organic debris. Fleas may transmit diseases - the bubonic plague was transmitted by the fleas that live on rats - and they may also carry other parasites such as tapeworms.

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Cat Flea
© 2004 Joyce Gross

Quick ID

  • Always found on mammals, sometimes birds
  • Hard shell
  • No wings
  • Strong hind legs for jumping

More information about Fleas

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Last updated: Jan 2, 2017