25 Startling Flea and Tick Facts Some Fun Facts You Probably Didn't Know

BY | September 19 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
25 Startling Flea and Tick Facts

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Flea and ticks are gross, annoying, and potentially harmful to your pet's health. Turns out, however, that they're also quite fascinating.

25 Insane Facts about Fleas and Ticks [Flea Facts]

Fleas and ticks are dreadful creatures that feed on your petโ€™s blood and can potentially spread life-threatening diseases to both pets and humans. This article delves deep and reveals all the dirty little secrets about these parasitic bloodsuckers. These tick and flea facts are verified by experts and they will not only help you garner a better understanding of these creatures but also allow you to start interesting conversations with other pet enthusiasts.

Without a doubt, fleas or ticks are your enemies, and knowing the enemy is the first step towards defeating them. Below is our list of some strange, informative, and disconcerting facts about these little creeps.

Freaky Flea Facts

  1. Fleas are wingless insects that get onto hosts by jumping.

  2. Fleas have been on this planet for approximately 100 million years.

  3. There are over 2,000 species and subspecies of fleas (that we know of).

  4. In almost all species of fleas, the females are larger than the males.   

  5. In the continental United States, the Cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is responsible for nearly all of the fleas found on both cats and dogs.

  6. If you find a flea on your cat or dog, there could be an infestation on your pets and around your home. Adult fleas are only a small percentage of the total population of a given infestation.

  7. A female flea can consume 15 times its body weight (in the blood) on a daily basis.

  8. A female flea lays eggs within 35 to 48 hours of its first blood meal.

  9. Flea eggs are usually laid directly on a host, often falling off the hostโ€™s body and spreading the infestation to the surrounding environment.

  10. A female flea can lay about 2,000 eggs over the course of its life but is incapable of laying eggs until after its first meal.

  11. Once adult fleas emerge from their puparium, they have approximately 7 days to find a blood meal or they die.
  12. Your average flea will have a 2 to 3-month lifespan.

  13. If it doesnโ€™t have to move around much, a flea can live anywhere between 2 months and 100 days between meals.

  14. If they were human-sized athletes participating in the long jump in the Olympics, certain fleas could break the current world record by approximately 970 feet.

Know Your Ticks

  1. There are more than 800 species of ticks on this planet (that we know of).

  2. Ticks belong to the Arachnida classโ€”other friendly critters in this class include, but are not limited to mites, spiders, and scorpions.

  3. There are 2 families of ticks: Ixodidae and Argasidae. Ixodidae are commonly known as hard ticks (because of their hard dorsal scutum, or shield), and Argasidae is usually referred to as soft ticks (as they have a soft exoskeleton and no scutum).

  4. If youโ€™re bitten by a tick in the continental United States, it is usually a hard tick.

  5. The majority of ticks use 3 hosts, feeding on a different host for the larvae, nymph, and adult life stages, respectively.

  6. There are anti-inflammatory and anesthetic compounds in the saliva of hard ticks that make it less likely for their host(s) to notice that theyโ€™ve been bitten.

  7. The saliva of hard ticks contains proteins with changing compositions, making it difficult for a hostโ€™s immune system to detect a threat. This decreases the likelihood that the hostโ€™s immune system will even recognize that itโ€™s being compromised.

  8. While feeding on a host, certain ticks contain a neurotoxin in their saliva that can induce โ€œtick paralysis.โ€ This condition progresses gradually (usually starting 5 to 9 days after attachment), however, the symptoms dissipate soon after the tick is (properly) removed.

  9. Hard ticks have a very long single feeding session, whereas soft ticks have several feeding sessions separated by a few hours.

  10. After feeding, female hard ticks swell up much more than female soft ticks.

  11. No time for cuddlingโ€”male ticks dies right after mating.

Don't live in fear, protect yourself from fleas and ticks. Read our growing library of information on fleas and ticks including how to prevent a flea and tick problem, how to treat a problem, product comparisons, answers to frequently asked questions, and more.

How Fleas Jump (and How High!)

Fleas are some of the most exceptional jumpers on the planet. In relation to the size of their bodies, they are virtually unrivaled in their ability to propel themselves, leaving many to wonder exactly how fleas jump.

Fleas' incredible jumping capability is how these wingless insects are able to get onto your dogs. Fleas have been observed jumping from approximately 38 to 100 times their body length, and up to 2 feet high. While they have 6 legs, their hindmost pair is the most important set of legs when it comes to jumping. Fleas bend the closest segments of their longest set of legs (their rear pair of legs) directly before jumping.

First, Some Flea Anatomy

Understanding the anatomical construction of their legs is helpful in understanding how fleas jump. Their legs are constructed of 4 segments. Extending from the body outward, are the coxa, femur, tibia, and tarsus, respectively. The coxa is the first segment of the leg. This joins fleasโ€™ legs to their bodies. The femur is the thick portion of fleasโ€™ legs, containing the most muscle and connecting the trochanter (a joint that is roughly equivalent to a knee) to the tibia. The tibia is segmented, connecting the femur to the tarsi. Finally, the tarsi (roughly their equivalent of feet) are the portion of fleasโ€™ legs that are farthest from their body.    

In studies, it was observed that fleasโ€™ trochanters sometimes appeared to make contact with the ground just before they jumped. However, it is now believed that the tarsi are the most integral segment in understanding how fleas jump.

Fleas create around 100 times more power than their leg muscles alone could generate, and they always spring their legs at the exact same time. They rely on energy stored in an elastomeric proteinโ€”resilin, to perform their spectacular jumps. The resilin in fleasโ€™ legs is essentially a stretchy pad of protein that extends and contracts, propelling them great distances. It is elastic enough to withstand the force of the quick, snapping movement that fleas enact while jumping, but is able to resume its original shape after committing to a jump.

Stop Those Jumping Fleas

As intimidating as these miniatures, parasitic Olympians are, neither you nor your dogs should yield to timidity. Rather, it is fleas that should be wary of jumping onto your dogs in the first place. There are plenty of products that protect your dogs and your home from fleas. There are also products that kill fleas if they already have access to your dogs. Check out some options on the right.

Related Products

K9 Advantix
Advantage II for Cats
Comfortis
Frontline Plus

More on Fleas and Ticks

Understanding Fleas and Ticks
Flea and Tick Season: When to Use What Treatment
How Do Flea and Tick Treatments Work?
How to Detect Fleas and Ticks
What Temperature Do Fleas Flourish In?

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