Flea and its varieties

Types of Fleas

Flocks of Fleas

Hundreds of different types of fleas thrive across the U.S. These jumping pests will bite most mammals, and some transmit disease. Humans and their pets may encounter the following species:

  • Cat Fleas – This is the most common variety that infests cats, dogs, humans, and wild animals.
  • Dog Fleas – Preying on similar hosts as the cat flea, this species is not as widespread.
  • Human Fleas – These parasites enjoys taking blood meals from humans and pigs.
  • Chigoe Fleas – Known as sand fleas, these insects feed on people near tropical beaches.
  • Sticktight Fleas – These pests harm those in contact with squirrels, poultry, and other birds.
  • Rat Fleas – Both the oriental and northern species feed on Norway and roof rats and spread serious diseases.

These different types of fleas can transmit various infections, including plague, murine typhus, and cat-scratch disease.

The insects all bite people and pets, which may trigger allergic reactions. Their ability to lay many eggs means that flea infestations often get out of hand.

Common Cat Fleas

Of all the different types of fleas, cat fleas are the most common issue for homeowners. These pests have one of the broadest host ranges of any type of flea. In addition to dogs, cats, and humans, they infest wild animals like raccoons, opossums, and foxes, which may affect pets in the yard.

Unlike other species, cat fleas stay on their hosts after feeding, mating, and laying eggs. Eggs or larvae then fall off pets and spread to beds, carpeting, and furniture.

Flea Control

Deep cleaning and vacuuming can destroy the pests and their offspring. Machine-washing fabrics with hot water may also help, but disposing of contaminated bedding or other material away from the home might be necessary. Seek veterinary help for affected pets.

Though homeowners can take steps to remove and prevent infestation, sometimes it isn’t enough. The experts at Orkin have the skills to deal with all the different types of fleas.


Types of Fleas – Learn About The Different Flea Types in the USA

There are different types of fleas and they are present anywhere in the world, all 2000 varieties of them. In the United States, these creatures cause headache to both pets and their owners. Out of the over two hundred flea species found in America, 19 are reported in the state of Florida alone. Major flea species include:

  • Ctenocephalises felis – commonly known as cat fleas
  • Ctenocephalides canis – dog fleas
  • Echidnophaga gallinacean – sticktight fleas
  • Pulex irritans – human fleas

Female fleas are capable of laying eggs in as short as 48 hours after a meal. They are also capable of hopping a distance of one to two feet making them quite difficult to battle.

Types of Fleas Reported in the USA

1. Cat Flea

As the name suggests, cat fleas are commonly found on cats but they also attack dogs, other animals and even humans. Inside the home, their favorite spot is often the carpet but you may find their eggs anywhere in the house other than on your pets.

2. Human Flea

Some folks may say there is no such thing as flea infestation in humans. With the discovery of the human flea, that is no longer true. They stick and hide in the body’s most hairy parts such as the underarm and the head. However, observing a strict hygiene practice will keep these pests away.

3. Rat Flea (Oriental and Northern)

Because there are many types of fleas that feed on blood, your pet mouse may be targeted too and they are also likely to feed on you as well. Rat fleas have two varieties namely: Oriental and Northern. Oriental rat fleas came from the Orient to America and inhabit the coastal areas and rivers. Northern rat fleas, on the other hand, like the cozy atmosphere of your home so if you spot them, find a way to get rid of them immediately.

4. Chicken Flea

This flea type is usually found with their heads buried in the skin of chickens near the head or face. At first glance, it would look like the fowl’s head or face is infested with black heads but on a closer look, you’ll discover that they are in fact chicken fleas.

5. Sand Flea

Among the types of fleas there are, the sand flea appears to look the most unique, more like very tiny shrimps. While they typically feed on mostly organic and withering plants, when they attach themselves to pets, they would also find blood to be suitable. Animals are often their vehicle in making their way inside your home.

6. Sticktight Flea

This type of critter loves to bury their heads into the skin of almost any animal – dog, cat, horse, bird and yes, humans too. Sticktight fleas are quite hard to remove once they have attached themselves onto the skin of their victim. They often cause infections and anemia to young animals.

7. Springtail Flea

Springtail fleas belong to the types of fleas called Collembola. It is also sometimes called snow flea. They stay in damp areas, are small as a pin head but can jump up to four feet. They don’t normally attach themselves to animals unless they find a reason such as a skin infection that makes the area conducive to their existence because they love anything wet.

The evolution of the fleas and their large number of species may have to do with their hosts. How they are able to move from place to place to gain access to their hosts may be attributed to the availability of places that contribute to their survival and adaptation. The best way to avoid them and to help stop the types of fleas from multiplying are to ensure you make your homes, yard, garden, garage and all surrounding areas flea-proof through thorough cleanliness and using the right flea control products.

Got fleas? Find out which products work in 2019, with my updated flea control product comparison chart.


Types of Fleas

There are over 2,000 different species and subspecies of fleas, so it would be near impossible for me to list and describe all of them. I decided to pick out a few of the most common fleas that are likely to infest your home. I won’t be describing the different flea life cycle in the following paragraphs because they all have the same basic life cycle going from egg, larvae, pupae, then to adult flea.

Cat Flea (Ctenocephal />

This is the most common domestic flea, if you have an infestation this pesky little guy is probably the one that caused it. The scientific name for a cat flea is Ctenocephalides Felis or Bouché. Unlike most fleas the cat flea is known to remain on its host to feed. In order for the cat flea to be able to reproduce it has to acquire a fresh blood meal. Sadly for us cat fleas don’t just prey on cats but on just about any other pet species with fur (I said with fur because no your goldfish won’t have fleas).

Cats Fleas are about 2 millimeters in length when fully grown. They lay wet eggs on their host that eventually dry out and fall to the ground where they will hatch into larva. You’re more likely to find a cat flea on a dog than you are to find a dog flea on a dog.

Dog Flea (Ctenocephal />

The Dog Flea or Ctenocephalides Canis is a lot like the cat flea by feeding off all sorts of mammals such as humans, cats, dogs, and other furry animals. Though it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that primary host for a dog flea is well, a dog. Though you can have a dog flea infestation in the U.S, dog fleas are much more common in Europe.

Dog Fleas and Cat Fleas are very similar in appearance. The main differences are only distinguishable under a microscope. They can be distinguished by their heads. Wikipedia states

“The dog flea can be distinguished from the very similar cat flea by its head, which is anteriorly rounded rather than elongate, and the tibiae of its hind legs, which exhibit eight setae-bearing notches rather than six.”

As you can tell it’s difficult to really spot the differences with the naked eye. This won’t be too big of a problem considering there haven’t been any noticeable health differences found.

Human Flea (Pulex Irritans)

Yes there is such thing as a human flea. Though due to proper hygiene and improved sanitation and medical care they are very rare. They are actually more commonly found on pigs that humans. These fleas are reddish brown in color same as most fleas. The females are actually much larger than males, the largest being nearly one and a half times larger than the average male.

Some scientist believe that the human flea originally targeted the Guinea pig instead of humans because the flea was from South America to begin with.

Oriental rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis)

You may not have recognized this devils name when you read it but you will recognize his legendary and dark work. The Oriental Rat Flea or Tropical Rat Flea is the one responsible for the rapid spread of the bubonic plague. This flea can be incredibly dangerous and is the most dangerous flea on our list. He tends to feed off of rats making him a walking plague. Each flea does carry its own minor disease but this guy carries many different diseases such as the bubonic plague and murine typhus. He isn’t to be taken lightly.

Being slightly bigger than the average flea being about 2.5mm in average size. It has no genal or pronotal combs. This characteristic is used to differentiate the Oriental Rat Flea from dog, cat, and human fleas.

If you still think this flea isn’t much to worry about just remember he was the one who spread the disease across Europe that killed 200 million people

Rabbit Flea (Spilopsyllus cuniculi)

This flea is a really interesting one. A Rabbit Flea can tell when its host is pregnant by sensing a hormone in the host blood. This triggers sexual maturity in the fleas causing them to mate and produce eggs. Once its host goes into labor it migrates down to the birthing area and waits for the offspring to come out. When the offspring comes out it lays its eggs on them to help spread the infestation faster. They stay on the newborn for about 12 days then move back on to the original host and wait for the next time the mother starts to reproduce.

The Rabbit Flea is approximately 1 millimeter long and dark brown in color. This flea is generally found on rabbits and hares of course, but is sometimes found on cats and dogs. When looking for this flea you should check around your pet’s ears.


Common Flea Species

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There are many species of fleas but in the UK it is cat and dog fleas that cause most problems. The main concern about fleas is usually the distress and discomfort that flea bites may cause you or your beloved pet.

Bird fleas can multiply enormously in hen houses, breeders, batteries and other similar environments.


  • Adult bird fleas are generally brownish in colour, and 1–8mm long.
  • Their mouthparts are well adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood and project downwards from the head.

Life Cycle

  • They breed during the nesting period when the host and/or young are available for regular blood meals.
  • If the nest is reused, the pupae will hatch, mate and continue the breeding cycle.
  • Bird fleas can only live for a short time indoors and only in nests.
  • When the birds move from the nest, the adult fleas must find a new host.

Cat fleas are often unable to determine whether a host is suitable until it has been bitten. If it is deemed unsuitable, the flea soon drops off.


  • Cat fleas are 3mm long wingless ticks, flattened from side to side with long legs enabling them to jump.
  • They have both genal and pronotal combs (ctenidia), differentiating them from most other fleas of domestic animals.

Life Cycle

  • Fleas pass through four stages: eggs, larva, pupa, adult. The eggs are small and white. These stages combined vary from two weeks to eight months.
  • The adult flea is awakened by the detection of vibration of pet or human movement, pressure, heat, noise, or carbon dioxide for potential blood meals.
  • A cat flea cannot complete its life–cycle feeding only on human blood.
  • Cat fleas nest where the host is in its usual resting place, for example the cat basket. This is where the young often drop to mature.

Adult Dog fleas feed on the blood of dogs and cats, and they occasionally bite humans. It is a vector of the Dog Tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum, which can also affect humans.


  • Adult is brownish black in colour, but appear reddish–black after a blood meal.
  • Adult dog fleas are 1 to 4 mm long. The legless larva is off–white and measures up to 5 mm long.

Life Cycle

  • The fleas go through a four–stage life cycle: eggs, larvae, pupae, adult.
  • The larvae are longer than the adults and feed on particles of dry blood, excrement, and organic substances.
  • The body is laterally flattened, which allows it to move easily through an animal’s fur. Spines project backwards from the body of the flea, which help it to hold onto the host animal during grooming.
  • As they can jump approximately 6 inches, they can move from host to host. They can also infest garden lawns.

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Human Flea

Human fleas are now less common in the UK, except for farming areas where they can survive on pigs, and then jump to humans. They will bite anywhere on the body and are associated with itchiness as fleas crawl over the skin.


How Many Different Types of Fleas Are There?

There are more than 2,000 different types of fleas throughout the world. The most common of these are cat fleas, dog fleas, human fleas and Oriental rat fleas. Most people associate fleas with their family pets, however, fleas can feed on any warm-blooded animal, even humans. Fleas do not have wings, so they can’t fly. They move around by jumping with their very powerful legs. It’s estimated that an adult flea can jump as far as 12 inches or more, which is more than 150 times their height. They also move around by traveling on their ‟host.” This is the animal or human they have chosen for their blood meal. In fact, the female adult flea spends most of her life on the host animal feeding on their blood and laying up to hundreds of eggs per day.

Fleas are very dangerous when it comes to the spreading of diseases. Because of their ability to travel with the host animal, they can be transported to a vast number of different areas. This was the case with the spread of the Bubonic plague that ravaged Europe many years ago.

Flea Facts

Although there are many different types of fleas, most have the same general characteristics. Fleas have a flattened or pancake-shaped body, making it easy for them to move through the hair of their host. They also possess backward shaped hairs and spines on their legs that allow them to grasp on to animals. Have you ever tried to pull a flea off of your dog? It’s almost impossible! Most species of fleas are tan to reddish-brown in color. They have a very strong outer shell covering their body called an exoskeleton which makes it difficult for us to crush them between our fingers. Oftentimes the flea jumps away unscathed.

Common flea species

Call the professional

Fleas infesting your home, your yard or your pets can be very unsettling and difficult to eliminate. Some pets are very sensitive to flea bites causing them to bite and scratch almost uncontrollably, which can lead to skin irritations, sores and loss of hair – not to mention the emotional trauma the pet goes through.

If you suspect that any type of flea may be invading your home, call a pest control professional to schedule an inspection and help you develop a plan to solve the problem.


Fleas are the most prevalent parasite found on fur-bearing animals, such as dogs and cats. There are an estimated 2,000 species of fleas worldwide, and more than 300 types are found in the United States. The cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis, is the most common domestic flea. Other kinds of fleas include dog fleas, human fleas and rat fleas.

What does a flea look like?

Fleas are small, wingless, flat insects with three pairs of legs. Adult fleas are about 1/8 of an inch long (1 to 3 mm). They are dark reddish-brown in color and have biting mouthparts. They can be very hard to spot because they move so fast along the animal’s body. Flea-combs and wetting an animal’s hair can help you grasp them for a visual inspection.

What do fleas eat?

Fleas feed on any warm-blooded body, including humans. However, they prefer to dine on hairy animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, mice, opossums, raccoons and skunks.

Where do fleas live?

Once a flea hatches and becomes an adult, it uses its powerful legs to jump onto a host, where it likely remains at all times. While attached, the flea will feed, mate and lay eggs. The eggs often fall off of the host into the yard, bedding, carpeting or blankets.

Are fleas dangerous?

Fleas not only cause discomfort from biting, but they are also vectors of the bubonic plague. While there are few cases reported today, this rare disease wiped out one-third of Europe in the 14th century. Additionally, they can spread the bacterial disease murine typhus, which is transmitted to humans through infected rats. In pets, fleas serve as an intermediate host for tapeworm. The saliva of these biting pests is known to cause serious flea allergy dermatitis in dogs and cats.

How can I prevent a flea infestation?

There are a few tips that people should follow to prevent fleas from becoming an itchy nuisance.

Around the House

  • Maintain a clean home. Practicing good sanitation is key to avoiding an infestation.
  • Vacuum carpets, floors and furniture frequently, and wash ben linens regularly, to remove any existing fleas and help prevent the laying of eggs.
  • Since fleas can transport themselves on rodents, it’s important to eliminate any rodent harborage points by keeping the lawn properly landscaped. This includes mowing the lawn on a regular basis, replacing loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation and windows, and removing all moisture sites around the property.
  • Check pets’ coats thoroughly for fleas, especially after spending time outdoors. Be aware of excessive scratching and licking.
  • Bathe pets after walks or playtime with other animals.
  • Wash pet bedding, collars and plush toys frequently.
  • Speak to a veterinarian about flea prevention treatments.

How do I get rid of fleas?

Fleas have the ability to reproduce quickly, which makes flea infestations very difficult to control. In fact, fleas can produce as many as 400 to 500 offspring in their lifetime. A veterinarian can recommend the best methods and products for treating fleas on your pet. However, if you discover fleas in your home, it’s important to contact a licensed pest professional to assist with flea control. Enter your zip code here to locate a pest control company near you.

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Copyright ©2019 National Pest Management Association

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National Pest Management Association


What you need to know about fleas on dogs

Sometimes dogs will do anything to itch that scratch. If your efforts to hit the right spot aren’t enough, the edge of a table or a full rolypoly on the carpet will have to do!

But if your pooch is still struggling to satisfy the itch, it could be a sign that they’ve become a tasty blood meal for thirsty fleas. Not only are fleas on dogs a nuisance, they can carry horrid diseases, so you and your dog could end up with much more than just a nasty nip.

Get the low down on these tiny but tough insects and how you can treat your dog to stop an infestation in its tracks.

Fleas are tiny wingless insects that feed on the blood of animals, including both pets and wildlife.

Fleas love dogs but the feeling definitely isn’t mutual. That’s because your pet may be bitten hundreds of times a day by fleas, which causes them to itch so desperately! They also bite humans, leaving a red spot that’s incredibly itchy.

But a flea can be much worse than its bite, as many of them are infected with diseases which they can pass on to the host they’re feeding on.

One of the most frustrating things about finding a flea is that they reproduce rapidly (they lay around 2,000 eggs in their lifetime) so if you spot one on your dog, it’s likely your house will be harbouring flea eggs . These can then go on to hatch and cause an infestation.

Fleas are also impressively mobile. They can jump around 66 times their own height and withstand a force of 100Gs – more than ten times that of a fighter jet!

Fleas are the cause of a number of health issues in dogs:

  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) – this condition is an allergic reaction to flea saliva that irritates the skin and can cause intense itching in your dog.
  • Tapeworm – if your dog ingests an infected flea they can transmit tapeworm.
  • Diseases – infected fleas can pass on diseases to dogs when they bite. One study found that half of fleas carried at least one bacterial disease. 1
  • Anaemia – multiple flea bites can lead to loss of blood, resulting in anaemia, which is particularly dangerous for flea-infested puppies , small breeds, elderly dogs and pregnant dogs, who may also be more vulnerable to heavy infestation.

If you’re concerned about the number of fleas on your pet, or they seem unwell, speak to your vet.

Female fleas living on your dog lay eggs, which fall into the surrounding environment (e.g. your home!) where they hatch into flea larvae. The larvae turn into pupae and develop into young adult fleas.

Each juvenile flea waits inside a tiny cocoon until a new host animal comes along. When they sense body heat and vibrations, the young fleas burst from the cocoon, leap onto the nearest pet (or person!) and start feeding. On pets, breeding begins, more eggs are produced, and the whole horrible cycle starts again.

Flea bites are painful and itchy. Your dog won’t be able to hide their discomfort, attempting to relieve the itch by constantly scratching or licking at their irritated skin, which could lead to hair loss . This is often the first sign of an infestation, even if you haven’t actually seen a flea on your dog. This is because fleas burrow deep into the fur coat and tend to be felt first before they’re seen.


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