Understanding the Life Cycle of a Flea

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If you want to eliminate fleas from your home and your pet, there are a few things that you should know. Firstly, you must be familiar with its life cycle when you are trying to eradicate its presence. There are four stages in the life cycle of a flea – egg, larval, pupal and adult. Depending on the environmental humidity and temperature levels, the life cycle will take anywhere from weeks to months. The optimal temperature for fleas is around 70 to 85 degree Fahrenheit and they thrive best when the humidity is around 70 percent.

Eggs

The life cycle begins when the adult female lays eggs after having a blood meal from the host’s body. An adult flea needs blood to reproduce. The eggs are white in color and smaller than a grain of sand. They are laid in the fur of your pet in batches of 20. One fully grown adult can lay up to 40 eggs in one day.Eggs take anywhere between 2 days to 2 weeks to develop and they hatch when the environmental conditions are suitable. If the temperature is dry and cold, the eggs will take a lot longer. If it is humid and the temperatures are high, they will hatch faster.

Larval stage

The larvae that emerge out of the eggs are blind and try to avoid the light. They develop by eating flea diet (predigested blood) passed on by the adult fleas, along with any other organic debris that they can find in their environment. The larvae can grow up to a quarter of an inch in length and are legless and white. Larvae constitute about 35 percent of the flea population in a household. Under favorable conditions, they spin cocoons a couple of weeks after they hatch out of their eggs. This leads to the pupal stage.

Pupal stage

The cocoon they spin protects them for days or weeks before they metamorphose into the adult flea. If the surrounding environmental conditions are not right, the cocoon can protect the flea for months, and sometimes, even years. Since the cocoons have a sticky coating, they can hide deep in your carpeting and cannot be removed by sweeping or light vacuuming. The adult flea won’t emerge until they are sure of the presence of a host – by rising CO2 levels, vibrations and body heat.

Adult fleas

Once a flea emerges from the cocoon, it will start to feed off the host within hours. Once they are done with their first meal, they will start to lay eggs within a few days. Female fleas cannot lay eggs till they get a blood meal. Newly hatched adult fleas are flat bodied and dark in color. Once they feed off your dog or cat, they will become larger and lighter, taking on a more recognizable shape. Adult fleas make up less than five percent of the flea population in an average home.

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