Flea and ticks are gross, annoying, and potentially harmful to your pet's health. Turns out, however, that they're also quite fascinating.
Whether you know them as parasites, hematophagous insects, or just plain annoying, fleas and ticks present very real threats to your pet. They love your pets. They live for your pets. In fact, if they choose your pets as a host, they can’t live without them. Once a flea or a tick has access to your pets’ bodies, they’ll be inseparable. Fleas will start reproducing. Before you know it, you’ll have a flea infestation in your home.
Have no doubts—fleas and ticks are your enemies and knowing your enemy is the best way to control them. Below are some strange, informative and disconcerting facts about these little creeps.
Freaky Flea Facts
- Fleas are wingless insects that get onto hosts by jumping.
- Fleas have been on this planet for approximately 100 million years.
- There are over 2,000 species and subspecies of fleas (that we know of).
- In almost all species of fleas, the females are larger than the males.
- In the continental United States, the Cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is responsible for nearly all of the fleas found on both cats and dogs.
- 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.
- A female flea can consume 15 times its body weight (in blood) on a daily basis.
- A female flea lays eggs within 35 to 48 hours of its first blood meal.
- Flea eggs are usually laid directly on a host, often falling off the host’s body and spreading the infestation to the surrounding environment.
- 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.
- Once adult fleas emerge from their puparia, they have approximately 7 days to find a blood meal or they die.
- Your average flea will have a 2 to 3 month lifespan.
- If it doesn’t have to move around much, a flea can live anywhere between 2 months and 100 days between meals.
- 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
- There are more than 800 species of ticks on this planet (that we know of).
- Ticks belong to the Arachnida class—other friendly critters in this class include, but are not limited to mites, spiders and scorpions.
- 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 are usually referred to as soft ticks (as they have a soft exoskeleton and no scutum).
- If you’re bitten by a tick in the continental United States, it is usually a hard tick.
- The majority of ticks use 3 hosts, feeding on a different host for the larvae, nymph and adult life stages, respectively.
- 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 they’ve been bitten.
- The saliva of hard ticks contain proteins with changing compositions, making it difficult for a host’s immune system to detect a threat. This decreases the likelihood that the host’s immune system will even recognize that it’s being compromised.
- While feeding on a host, certain ticks contain a neurotoxin in their saliva that can induce “tick paralysis.” This condition progresses gradually (usually starting 5 to 9 days after attachment), however, the symptoms dissipate soon after the tick is (properly) removed.
- Hard ticks have a very long single feeding session, whereas soft ticks have several feeding sessions separated by a few hours.
- After feeding, female hard ticks swell up much more than female soft ticks.
- No time for cuddling—male ticks die 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.
Advantage II for Cats
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?