Published on March 8th, 2019 | by Debbie Martin
An Interview with a Flea, the down and dirty gossip
Would you like to quickly introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi everyone, I’m a flea, you may already have seen some of my friends and I around… there are quite a few of us! As well as living in the UK we can also be found in Europe – one of my best friends lives in France– lovely weather apparently and plenty of pets to live on!
Could you just describe what you look like for some of our readers who may not have met a flea before?
Well, my body is an attractive brown colour (well, so my husband says anyway!) and like all adults, I have flattened sides – perfect for weaving around in your pet’s fur. I also have a specially adapted mouthpart that allows me to pierce the skin of my host and feed on their blood – yum! It’s making me hungry just thinking about it.
Thanks to our strong and powerful legs, we are proud to be some of the best jumpers of the insect world. This means we can easily hop onto a passing animal, bird or even your pet if they venture into our neighbourhood.
Size-wise, I am 4mm in length and the longest out of all my 25 sisters – not that I am boasting at all! However, fleas do vary in length and can be anything between 1 to 6mm, which can make us tricky to spot.
What’s your favourite time of the year?
Like all fleas, my favourite time of the year is between spring and autumn, as it’s nice and warm outside and there’s plenty of moisture in the air. After the autumn it becomes far too cold for us to survive outdoors.
During the colder winter months we like to shelter inside the homes of our host animals – those radiator things and under floor heating keep us nice and toasty.
Your carpets, rugs and the warm dark hidey-holes in your house and under furniture are perfect for our developing offspring to hide in.
Tell us, where do you and your flea friends like to ‘hang-out’?
You can find us in most places, including inside your home, garden as well as in the local park. Adult fleas, like me, live on hosts such as wildlife, birds and even your pets. At the moment I am living on a lovely Basset Hound called Sophie who’s a great host. Her owner very rarely brushes her and she doesn’t seem to groom herself much either – so I’m not at risk of being removed or eaten anytime soon!
You hear horror stories of flea friends who have picked the wrong host (especially some very fastidious cats!) and discover they groom themselves daily. Within a week, sadly, my friends will be eaten. Luckily for us though, they usually won’t get us all! It’s a numbers game.
How long do fleas live?
Fleas don’t have the longest lifespan and on average we survive 1-3 weeks on our host, although, legend has it that there are fleas that have lived as long as 160 days – I’m hoping I will be the latter.
Once we have emerged from our cocoon as a young adult (a proud moment for any flea mum) we have only a couple of days to find our first meal, else we will perish. We then need daily blood meals to survive so we tend to stay on the same host for the duration of our life.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Thanks to Sophie the Basset Hound, I have loads of adventures, including walks in the park and sometimes even a picnic. The other day Sophie took me to a dog (and flea) friendly café. After all our adventures Sophie and I like nothing more than to snuggle up on the end of Sophie’s owner’s bed – ahh bliss!
What’s your favourite food?
I only eat one thing and that’s my host’s blood, it’s so tasty good and provides all I need for the day. I need to have a blood meal every day to survive.
What sort of things do you dislike?
All fleas hate the FRONTLINE® spot-on products as they kill us within 24 hours of encountering them – there’s no chance of a last meal even! I’m so glad Sophie’s owner hasn’t discovered them yet.
Thanks for your time today; I think we have all learnt a lot about fleas. I hope you and Sophie have a good trip back home!