Understanding the life cycle of a flea

The life cycle of the flea

Fleas are blood-sucking parasites that can cause nuisance to dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and humans. If you don't control fleas, they can become a real plague of fleas in your home. Fleas are annoying to dogs and cats but they can cause severe itching and broken skin in your pet in case of a flea allergy. In addition, fleas are also the intermediate host of the tapeworm, which means they can spread the tapeworm. So when you see fleas in your dog or cat, worm at the same time to prevent complaints caused by any tapeworms you may have brought with you.

Cats flea and dog flea

There are two different types of fleas, the dog flea (Ctenocefalides Canis) and the cat flea (Ctenocefalides Felis). Although the name suggests that the cat's flea only occurs in cats, this does not appear to be the case at all. Also in dogs the most common flea is the cat flea. All the different fleas have a life cycle, which for the most part takes place in the environment of the pets, but starts on an animal with a blood meal.

Adult flea sucks blood and only then lays eggs

The life cycle starts when the adult flea female lays eggs. A flea can only lay eggs after the adult flea has sucked blood from a pet. So there is always a blood meal needed for an adult flea to reproduce. When there are no pets or people around, the flea will not develop further.

Fleas lay eggs in the coat, but the eggs fall to the ground

After she has sucked blood, the flea lays dozens of eggs in the coat of the dog, cat or other pet. These are not really visible to us because they are white and smaller than a grain of sand. In addition, the eggs will soon fall out of the coat to develop further in the environment. Eggs from the flea do not develop in your pet's coat but anywhere your pet can go. Often the flea eggs of dogs and cats fall when they are on top or in their baskets.

When do flea eggs develop into larvae?

The eggs develop to the next stage: they become larvae. Development takes on average between 2 days and 10 days. It's really an average because when the temperature and humidity in the environment are not optimal, the egg can stop to develop and stay as eggs for months. Only when the weather is humid enough and the temperature gets higher again they will develop into larvae again. You will notice this, for example, in the autumn when the heating is turned on again.

Larvest stage begins when eggs from the adult flea hatch

When larvae hatch, they are a few millimeters long and as thin as a hair. In addition, they are slightly shy, so they like to sit in dark places and in cracks. The larvae that hatch from the eggs are blind and try to avoid the light. They develop by eating stools of adult fleas, skin flakes and other larvae or too with organic waste from the immediate environment. The larvae grow and moult twice, then spin a cocoon where they pupate until they are a young flea.

The pupal stage of the flea larva.

When the larva has spun a cocoon, it will develop into a young flea. This process can take 5 to 10 days, but when the environment does not seem optimal for a young flea, the cocoon will not hatch. A cocoon with fleas can last for months without affecting the quality of the flea in the cocoon. The cocoon protects against external influences and can survive for months until a suitable host is present in the environment. The flea in the cocoon recognises a host by rising CO2 levels, vibrations and body heat.

Adult fleas

So when the cocoon has observed the vibrations, flea will come out of the cocoon. The flea will then immediately look for an animal or human to feed on a blood meal. When the adult flea has eaten, the female will start laying the flea eggs. Then the life cycle is complete. Since only the adult fleas are on your pet, 95 percent will be in the vicinity of your pet. This is why you should not only treat your pet with a suitable agent, but also treat your environment after vacuuming. The cocoons hatch due to vibrations and are then sensitive to an environmental spray.