Ctenocephalides felis (Bouché)
Article by Bruce Gow
Adult: Cat fleas are 1.5-2.5 mm long. The body is laterally (sideways) compressed and brown to dark brown in colour.
Head: The head is small and helmet-shaped. Antennae are short (minute) and clubbed. Compound eyes are absent but atypical lateral ocelli (lenses) are present. Cat fleas have mouthparts adapted for piercing and sucking. The mandibles are absent but the labrum is modified into sharp serrated blades for slicing. The head is enlarged to contain musculature required to inject saliva and suck blood out of the host. A genal comb of 8 spines is present on the apex of the head.
Thorax: A pronotal comb of 8 spines occurs on the posterior edge of the pronotum. The pronotum is small in relation to the head. The first and middle pair of legs are similar in shape. The hind pair of legs are adapted for jumping. Wings are absent in all fleas.
Abdomen: Abdominal segments 2-7 have a conspicuous single row of setae. Cerci are absent from the apex of the abdomen.
Reproduction & Life-cycle:
Females lay around 150 eggs on the host but these fall into carpet or the resting place of the host. The female requires a blood meal every 12 hours to survive and a blood meal to oviposit. Eggs are oval, white and 0.5 mm long. The eclosion period is 2-4 days. Larvae are worm-like (vermiform), white and 4-10 mm long. Larvae remain in the host’s resting place and feed upon dried blood, exuviae or debris. The larval period is 10-11 days. The larva creates a cocoon cemented with debris for pupation. The pupal period is 7-10 days. The adult period is 11 days for the female, 7 days for the male, but up to 6 weeks when continually on a cat. The development period is dependent on temperature and relative humidity and can require 20 months. The life-cycle is 20-24 days.
The cat flea is a widespread urban pest of humans and domestic animals.
The species prefers cats but will feed upon 50 species of mammals, including dogs. The genal and pronotal combs lodge the host’s hair and enable to flea to remain on the host during grooming.
“These little buggers love hitchhiking onto your pets and having the time of their lives itching your favorite cat or dog and making life hell for you. If you ring us up we can discuss your treatment options or book an appointment if you’re suffering from a flea problem already. As a pest control company we only use non-toxic and low-toxic chemicals which assures your family’s health during as well as after our treatment.” – Bruce Gow
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