LONG DOES A FLEA LIVE?
by Whit Gibbons
July 31, 2005
about animals come in all varieties. Following are ones many people have
wondered about at one time or another, especially during the summer.
Q: How long
does a flea stay on a dog or cat?
A: An adult
flea may live on a dog or cat for a few days to more than three weeks,
sucking blood from your pet the entire time. So-called dog fleas and cat
fleas are different species but both can live on either animal, and neither
will either hesitate to bite a human if that's where they land.
fleas has been a problem since dogs and cats were first domesticated,
and a variety of toxic chemicals have been used in their control for decades.
Unfortunately, fleas evolve like all other organisms, and those that survive
one type of toxic control substance soon produce offspring that are invulnerable
to it. Hence, the original flea collars became obsolete as a new generation
of resistant fleas was produced. Proper flea control involves breaking
the life cycle, which includes blood-sucking females that drop an egg
an hour into carpets or bedding as well as the larvae and pupae that live
for several days to a couple of weeks before emerging as fleas ready to
pounce on the first warm body. By one estimate, in a house with fleas,
more than half are in the preadult stage. As if a flea bite were not a
big enough nuisance in itself, fleas are known to transmit the bacterium
that causes bubonic plague.
Q: How long
do flies live?
houseflies have always been a nuisance, pestering people in recreational
areas and on backyard decks. Our annoyance with the persistence of flies
landing on the edges of drinking glasses or bottles is presumably a natural
response as these creatures have been indicted as carriers of diseases
as severe as typhoid, cholera, and certain forms of dysentery.
housefly lays more than a hundred eggs, sometimes as many as three or
more times, on decaying vegetation, which includes horse manure. Dry dog
food that has been left several days may even be a place for egg laying.
Some of the other noxious species of flies, such as blow flies and the
brightly colored bottle flies, lay their eggs on animal matter.
the eggs of the housefly go through larval and pupal stages (maggots)
before emerging as adult flies after a period of 10 days to two weeks.
This is a good time to destroy potential nesting areas, before the adults
emerge. A female fly takes about two weeks to begin laying eggs, which
means an individual fly might be around to bother us for far longer than
we would like. Eliminating potential egg-laying sites is a major step
in helping reduce future outbreaks of flies. Rolling up a section of your
newspaper to use as a fly swatter won’t kill many flies, but you’ll
have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve shortened a two-week visit
for some individuals.
Q: What is
the life cycle of a mosquito?
A: Like flies
and many other insects, mosquitoes go through a basic life cycle from
egg to larval to pupal stages before becoming adults. Mosquito larvae
and pupae are the “wigglers” seen in standing water that can
be as negligible as that collected in a dead magnolia leaf, the rim of
an upturned bucket, or a low spot in a house gutter. Some kinds of mosquitoes
lay their eggs on damp or even dry soil in depressions that later fill
with water, stimulating the eggs to hatch. The aquatic stages last for
a few days to a week or more, depending on the species. Adult mosquitoes
can live for days or weeks, but only the females suck blood, as part of
the reproductive cycle. The males are benign creatures and some feed on
nectar. Surely no one needs a lesson in the threats mosquitoes pose, including
malaria, yellow fever, and West Nile virus.
the potential dangers to health caused by fleas, flies, and mosquitoes,
the plain nuisance of their presence is reason enough not to want them
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