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Insects and other arthropods

Fleas

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Description

Fleas are tiny, dark-coloured, wingless insects. They have a laterally flattened body and powerful long legs (especially the hind ones) well adapted for jumping.

Life cycle

Reproduction occurs on the animal host. Females usually lay the eggs in the fur, but the eggs fall off onto the ground almost immediately. They hatch within a few days.

The newly hatched larvae are legless, and have two small hooks on the tip of the abdomen that are used to move about. They usually are not normally found on the animal; they typically live in dust and debris.

Before reaching the nymph stage, the larva spins a cocoon that is soon covered with debris to give the insect extra protection. The adult flea emerges within five days to five weeks.

In some cases, the adult will remain longer in the cocoon, emerging only when stimulated by carbon dioxide and heat produced by a nearby host. After emergence, the flea begins to seek a host to feed and breed.

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