The ability of blood-sucking parasites to adapt in any adverse conditions is amazing. The fight against them has become commonplace for owners of pets and farm animals. Information about how long fleas live without food, as well as about their natural environment, can significantly facilitate the process of destroying these pests. Let’s find out what are the ideal conditions for life and reproduction in fleas, and how it can be influenced.
General idea about parasites
Fleas belong to a group of insects. The length of their body reaches 5 mm, it consists of a head covered with chitin and a body flattened on the sides. This form allows you to easily move in clothes, wool and feathers.
Characteristics and types
Fleas can be found anywhere, regardless of the season. Their main carriers are mammals that live indoors or have a burrow. Certain types of fleas settle in nests that have been empty for a long time. Fleas can live permanently on animals whose fur is not properly treated, producing offspring. Pests suck blood from one minute to several hours.
Parasites can do without food for a long time (several months), after which they actively attack the victim. The leap of these bloodsuckers exceeds the length of their body by about 100 times. There are more than 2,500 types of fleas in the world, the most common are:
- The most common human flea. The insect has a brown body up to 3.2 mm in length. The height of the jump is up to 30 cm, the length is up to 50 cm. It can feed on the blood of not only humans, but also animals. Plague carrier, provokes the development of pulicosis.
- Cat flea. This family can be seen on the body of all animals, as well as on humans. The pest carries various infectious diseases, its larvae usually develop in animal bedding or in their fur.
- Dog flea. Its habitat is the bodies of dogs, cats and people. The insect carries many parasites, including flatworms. In addition, it is considered the keeper of the causative agents of Marseille fever, leprosy and plague.
- The rat flea is recognized as one of the most dangerous species. A carrier of rat and mouse tapeworm, as well as plague. The brown color of a bloodsucker can have several shades from lighter to darker. Females most often lay eggs in rat nests.
- A grass flea that lives in grass, leaves of trees or shrubs. This species differs from others in the presence of wings, but the parasite enters the room on domestic animals.
- Earth flea. As a rule, a colony of insects is found on the first floors, settling in crevices, under plinths and other cozy corners.
Bed fleas should be identified. The environment of this species is bedding and upholstered furniture.
On average, the life expectancy of an average flea is 3 months. During this time, the female makes up to 100 bites and lays up to 500 eggs. Under favorable conditions, the egg develops within 2 days, after which a larva emerges from it. In the future, it goes through the following phases of development:
- adult (imago).
The most suitable temperature for the reproduction of fleas varies from 18 to 25 °C with a humidity of 60%, in such conditions they reproduce all year round. In the cold period, bloodsuckers live without breeding. Flea eggs are laid in small parts. After two weeks, larvae that look like translucent worms emerge from them. They penetrate into the middle of the nest and eat rotting organic matter there, blood residues in the excrement of adults, as well as skin epithelium.
After three molts, the larva turns into a pupa, wrapping itself in a cocoon. The duration of this stage is from one week to several months, depending on climatic conditions. After the pupa turns into a flea, it immediately looks for a host. The time of existence of a flea and its size directly depends on the temperature regime. The higher the air temperature, the larger the insects and the shorter their lifespan. With the onset of spring, bloodsuckers begin a full-fledged life: absorbing a lot of animal blood, they begin to reproduce actively.
Ideal living conditions
For active life, fleas need fresh blood, which they suck from the body of the “host”. In case of his death, insects immediately leave the corpse. At the same time, corners hidden from prying eyes, where sunlight does not penetrate, are considered the usual habitats of parasites in the premises. Usually they include:
- folds of clothes;
- old things;
- pet bedding;
- boxes with children’s toys.
Parasites like to settle under wooden bridges. Favorable conditions for the life of fleas are considered to be a combination of high humidity and high temperature. Each type of pest needs a specific climate for normal existence, which is considered optimal:
- for chickens – humidity 75-80%, temperature + 19 … 25 °C;
- for rats – humidity 60%, temperature + 13 … 15 °C;
- for dogs and cats – humidity 60%, temperature +25 °C.
Satisfied with the blood of its “host”, fleas jump off it and settle in a quiet and dark place for the purpose of further reproduction.
Lack of food
The body of bloodsuckers is capable of rapid adaptation in difficult conditions. However, they only need fresh human or animal blood for sustenance. Knowing how many days a flea lives, it is much easier for people to fight them. Parasites can go without food for a long time (up to two or more months), during this period they are in an anabiotic state. Fleas cannot breed in the absence of food: in order for the female to lay eggs, she needs to be periodically fed with fresh blood.
It is impossible to give absolutely accurate information about how long these pests can live without a “host”. However, the idea that they will die of hunger if the animal leaves the apartment for several months is wrong. In addition, with a decrease in temperature in the room, the probability that pests will be able to live there freely for a long time, waiting for a source of sustenance, increases.
The peculiarity of parasites is that the longer they are without food, the longer their existence will last. Starvation prevents only their reproduction. In cottages and private houses, flea families use small rodents as “hosts”.
According to statistics, fleas live from two to three months, this indicator refers to their presence in natural conditions. The duration of the life cycle of insects differs between the “host” and outside it. For example, in a cat’s hair, all stages of bloodsucker development take place within 50 days, and without animal hair – 1 year. The development of a dog flea on livestock takes 25 days, and without it – 2 months. Bloodsuckers can parasitize a person from 14 days to 1 year.
Terms of existence of pests on other animals:
- on rats – 60 days;
- on sheep – 1 year;
- on deer living in northern areas – 1.5 years.
Blood-sucking insects that chose ungulates live longer than anyone else. Temperature fluctuations have a great influence on the life of these pests. With an increase to +36 ° C, the life expectancy of parasites decreases by 40%, while their size can reach 4 mm. With a decrease in temperature, the development of fleas stops, and their life cycle increases.
Features of larvae
The lifespan of larvae, like adults, depends on living conditions. Indicators of humidity level and air temperature are of great importance for them. Access to food is extremely important, usually the excrement of adult insects. In a parasite-infested room, a large number of excrement and eggs collect on upholstered furniture, carpets, animal beds and other similar places.
In standard indoor conditions, the development period of the larva to the pupal stage is from 1 to 2 weeks. In a cool and dry room with a minimum amount of food, development slows down to 1-1.5 months. The insect spends 7 to 20 days in the pupal stage, developing all this time in a cocoon. It should be noted that females develop faster. With a decrease in temperature, there is a slowdown in the development of the pupa.
In addition to climatic conditions, the process of formation is influenced by the peculiarities of nutrition. When the body reaches a critical level of nutrients, the pupa leaves the cocoon. In some cases, it can stay in this shell for up to 5 months. At this stage of development, the bloodsucker is most adapted to survive in extreme conditions. The pupa can survive lethal effects of insecticides, very low temperature and freezing, as well as severe drought. Even in the most unfavorable environment, a pupa can maintain its viability for several years thanks to a strong cocoon.
Methods of destruction
The elimination of fleas begins with the treatment of their habitats indoors. You can see not only adults, but also larvae in carpets, bedding for animals, upholstered furniture, crevices and plinths. If insecticides are used, insects die within 2 days. It is important to start the destruction from the premises, and then treat the fur of all pets.
When carrying out procedures with carpets, you should know that chemicals do not penetrate into their depths. Meanwhile, several thousand pupae, larvae and eggs are accumulating there. Therefore, in such cases, it is necessary to carry out a repeated procedure, which is carried out after a certain period after the main disinsection.
Since the properties of the drugs become weaker after some time, the use of insecticides with prolonged action will be an effective solution. You can completely get rid of the home colony after 2-3 thorough treatments.
The most effective ways to get rid of animal fleas:
- Powerful drops capable of eliminating a large number of individuals. The effect of the product can be observed very quickly, in addition, it retains its properties for 1-2 months. When processing a pet’s wool, drops are applied to the animal’s spine and withers.
- Various shampoos are used to remove fleas from young pets. Due to their mild effect, similar means can be used quite often.
- An effective tool in the fight against bloodsuckers is special collars. They include substances that have a detrimental effect on these insects. The collar should be applied only after the animal has been bathed with a suitable shampoo or any other substance with similar properties.
- After using chemicals in the apartment, it is recommended to spread fresh sprigs of lavender, wormwood, mint or chamomile in the expected places where parasites live and near the pet’s bedding. The sharp smell of these plants scares away fleas, but does not harm animals and people.
- Various aerosols and sprays with antiparasitic properties are considered to be an active agent. Treatment of animals with such substances is allowed only with the use of a special protective cone – so that the pet does not lick the insecticide off the wool and is not poisoned.
To eliminate a flea colony, you need to properly treat your home and pets.