So what is a parasite?..well it is something
which invades our body space such as a fungus, mite or insect. The organism
is dependant on our body to live out its own lifestyle without making a
useful or adequate return to the host body...namely us..!
are wingless insects, and are of the Order Siphonoptera, strongly flattened
from side to side, that's why you can't squash 'em between your fingers
cos they're already squashed. This tall thin body allows them to move
very rapidly among hair or feathers, (all depends what you're wearing) and
if all else fails their strong enlarged hind legs will propel them up to
30cm, (approximately 12 inches) this may not sound much, but it is more
than 200 times the fleas own body length and is comparable to a man jumping
individual flea species is more or less dependant upon it's own host, but
in many cases it can also suck the blood of other species. Of the
50 - 60 different types found in Europe, about half occasionally bite humans,
but only the human flea is able to breed on a diet of human blood only.
eggs are smooth, oval and greyish white. They are about 1/4mm long,
so they can be seen by the naked eye. Unlike louse eggs, they are
not attached to hairs but are dropped on the ground and are therefore usually
found in the nest or lair of the host ( better keep out of hubbies underpants
draw..! ). The female can lay several hundred eggs in her lifetime,
in groups of 4 - 8. At room temperature they will hatch in about 10
days. The larva feed on various types of organic matter including
the faeces of the adult fleas, which contains undigested blood. They
are white, blind and worm like and they have a row of bristles on each segment.
The duration of development depends largely upon temperature and may vary
from 8 to 150 days. When fully grown the larvae pupate in a cocoon
spun from a salivary secretion. The cocoons are normally covered with
dust and are therefore difficult to discern. The pupal stage may vary
from one week to several months. The adult fleas may remain in the
cocoon for a long time - even for years - waiting until an animal comes
near them. Emergence from the cocoons is stimulated by vibration.
If an infested house has stood empty for a long time the hungry fleas will
start to emerge as soon as the new occupants move in....