Fleas are some of the most obnoxious nuisance pests you might encounter. They are itchy, spread quickly, cause painful bites, and can make your life or the life of your furry friends a truly miserable existence. They also tend to make their homes where they are extremely difficult to get rid of, including in your carpet.
However, despite the fact that these bugs are truly annoying and should have no place in your home, fleas are truly fascinating creatures when you learn more about them. Here are five things about fleas that you (probably) didn’t know.
Fleas can jump. Like… really jump.
You might not be surprised to learn fleas can jump. In fact, this ability to leap is perhaps the most famous characteristic ability that defines them as a species. However, few people realize just how well fleas can jump. Fleas are incredibly small, so their ability to leap is often downplayed due to scale. But when you scale things up, it’s truly amazing how these creatures are built.
Fleas have the ability to jump over 80 times their own height. For perspective, that’s the equivalent of a six-foot-tall human jumping 480 feet into the air. In other words, if humans could jump like fleas, the Olympic high jump competition would be placing the bar at the top of a nearly 50-story building. They can jump incredibly far too, leaping more than 200 times their own body length. If we were to scale that up, that’s like an Olympic long jumper reaching a distance of over a quarter-mile in a single bound (and doing it from a complete standstill with no run-up as well)!
Fleas are pre-historic.
This one usually throws people for a loop. Fleas in their current form may seem truly insignificant, but the fossils have revealed what biologists believe to be the ancient ancestor to the flea—a parasite that plagued the dinosaurs that roamed the earth. Fossil records have shown what scientists believe to be two different flea species, the larger of which could get nearly up to an inch long in size (roughly the size of a German cockroach)! These gargantuan fleas had equally magnificent mouthparts designed to pierce through the thick skin of a dinosaur. As for their famed ability to jump, however, that didn’t come along until much later. In fact, ancient fleas lacked that ability entirely.
Fleas don’t thrive in low-humidity environments.
Fleas actually depend on the humidity in the air in order to thrive. This is why fleas tend to be so much more prominent of a problem in southern states than they are in the north. While they can and do live in dry environments, their life cycle is much shorter. Flea larvae don’t survive outside of environments with 60 to 70 percent relative humidity, and dry air also actively shortens an adult flea’s lifespan. This is why fleas aren’t typically a huge problem among desert rodents.
If you find that you’re dealing with a frustrating flea problem, drying out the air in your home with a dehumidifier can significantly improve cleanup, remediation, and containment efforts.
Fleas are a crucial food source for many other animals.
Have you ever seen a demonstration about how eliminating just one species of animal can jeopardize the survival of many others all the way up the food chain? Fleas are no exception. Fleas are a crucial part of the diet of a number of other insects and even larger animals, making them one of the most crucial members of the animal kingdom. Small snakes, spiders, frogs, and lizards will all eat fleas, and ants and beetles also rely on them as an almost primary source of nutrition. A colony of ants can consume hundreds of fleas, and prolific hunting species like fire ants are actually pretty effective at keeping flea populations down. That being said, we don’t advise releasing them into your yard, as fire ants cause their own share of problems, so really you’re just treating one issue with another.
Fleas are remarkably skinny.
Most people know fleas from their side profile view that shows their characteristic large abdominal area and their powerful jumping legs. But most people have never seen a flea from a head-on view, and that might surprise you. Fleas are actually remarkably skinny, as they need to be able to quickly and effortlessly move through hair and fur on their host. Their slender body shape makes it easy to weave in and out of fur strands, making it easy for them to find cover.Struggling with fleas? Take care of them quickly and effectively with service from the team at Frame’s Pest Control! Dial (419) 475-6055 today.