Fleas are a small (2mm) wingless insect, flattened side to side and reddish-brown
in colour. The flea has spines that are pointed backwards and legs that enable it
to jump high.
All adult fleas are parasitic on warm-blooded animals. Larval stages live in the
nest of the host and feed on skin, feathers and, most importantly, the blood-rich
faeces of the adult flea. When fully grown the larvae spin well camouflaged silken
cocoons. When fully developed, the adult waits within this until it detects the vibrations
caused by a potential host. Only then does it emerge.
The complete lifecycle of the flea takes only four weeks in the summer months. Adult
fleas feed on blood. Their bites can cause intense irritation around a central bright
red spot. Different people react differently to a bite, both in terms of degree of
reaction and time taken to react – hence the need for flea pest control and flea
The most common species in the UK is the Cat Flea which bites humans. The Human Flea
and the Bird Flea are next in magnitude. Dog fleas are less common, although other
species may become briefly attached to dogs in the wait for a more favourable host.
It’s best to treat infested pets with a special veterinary aerosol, powder, shampoo
or flea medication. Burn any infested bedding and spray a appropriate insecticide
into all cracks and crevices. It’s good practice to also remove and destroy any
old birds’ nests you find the eaves or attic.