Freaking Fleas

The Flea.  A small flat holometabolous (having a complete metamorphosis) insect. They cannot fly. They have no eyes. Their antennae are short and stout and their adult mouthparts are designed for piercing and sucking. The larvae look like a caterpillar with no legs. They are useless.  They are disgusting.  The adults are all blood sucking ectoparsites (a parasite that lives on the outside of its host). They prey on mammals and birds, but also feed on organic matter they find in the sleeping or nesting places of their “host”.  UGH!

They have finally found, and have begun preying on, my girls. My poor babies!  Scratching to smithereens. Moaning, groaning, and whimpering.  Scratching themselves raw through the night.  I’ve given them flea bath after flea bath, sprays, powders, brushing, flea collars; nothing seems to be helping for more than a few hours. My poor babies are under attack.  Buddy isn’t being bothered.  Not sure why.  Maybe his short bristly flat hair is too hard for them to penetrate. Or maybe with all the swimming he does, they just can’t hold on.

Not knowing what else to do, I do some research.  Did you know?

 There are more than 2,000 known species and subspecies of fleas, but only the cat flea accounts for almost all the fleas found on cats and dogs in the United States. The cat flea is a tropical insect and cannot tolerate freezing temperatures but they adapt well to indoor living. No wonder Florida is the flea capital of the country.  I think it’s time to head north.  Mental note to self, make sure to get back to Minnesota while temperatures are still below freezing, to kill the colonies that are no doubt residing in the Toy Hauler as well as on the dogs.

An adult flea only lives 2-3 months on average but has a maximum life span of about 1.5 years. A flea can live more than 100 days without a blood meal if left undisturbed.  Unless I can find a meat locker to bring the girls into for a couple hours……

The itchiness of flea bites is from the flea’s saliva which it injects into the wound to stop the blood from coagulating.  Now isn’t that proactive of them?  Turning their victim into a bleeder.

The female flea consumes 15 times her own body weight in blood daily. She can lay 2,000 eggs in her lifetime. That would mean 2,000 in 2-3 months on average. OMG!

Where there is one flea, there will be more than 100 offspring or adults, lurking in the furniture, the carpeting or on your pet.  Again, OMG. 

Fleas can jump 150 times their body length, and 80 times their own height. That’s like me jumping 1,000 feet.

Fleas have lots of little backward pointing hairs, and powerful leg muscles, making it hard to catch and hold a flea between your fingers.  Forget about trying to pick them off.  Yes, I sat there trying to pick them off Sunny Girl…..

Fleas have their problems too.  Plagued by various mites–up to 150 have been recorded from one flea. They also suffer from Nematode, Protozoan and Bacterial parasites. Like I care? Too bad, damn disease carriers!

The biggest flea in the world is the North American Hystrichopsylla schefferi.  It is about 12mm long or ½ inch long.  At least we’re not dealing with THAT! Yuck!

After thorough research, it appears I’m following all of the recommended treatments.  Fleas are resilient little creatures, and once there’s an infestation, it’s a long hard battle to win.  The key is to realize that if your space becomes compromised by fleas in a warm weather climate, they will happily relocate with you and continue to breed back home. Precautions need to be taken to ensure they can’t survive if they do tag along. Our biggest defense?  Cold kills. For now there’s not much more I can do to comfort the girls, just hope the various medications we’ve been using kick in soon and give them some relief.  Freaking Fleas!  For sure, it’s time to head north soon. 

Dang, what’s that itching on the top of my head?

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Comments

  1. They’re some pretty annoying critters, but you have to admit they’re amazing little suckers. Prevention is the key to staying flea free. Start before the weather turns warm, treat your pets, vacuum your carpets frequently, etc. And ounce of prevention and all that.

    • Indeed, in my whole life of owning pets and living the outdoors dream I never have seen anything like what we just experienced!

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