LONG DO FLEAS, FLIES AND MOSQUITOES LIVE?
Fleas, flies and mosquitoes have started to become a problem around
our house. How long do these loathsome creatures live?
An adult flea may live on a dog or cat from several 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. Neither will hesitate to bite a human if that's where
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 from 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.
houseflies have always been a nuisance during the summertime, 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. A female housefly lays more than a hundred eggs,
as many as three or more times, on rotting vegetation or other unsavory
matter. Dry dog food that has been left several days may even be a place
for egg laying.
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.
go through a basic life cycle from egg to larva to pupa before becoming
adults. Mosquito larvae and pupae are the "wigglers" seen
in standing water that can be as negligible as that collected in a magnolia
leaf lying on the ground, 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. Only the females suck blood; this is 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
around. As I have said before, ridding ourselves of ones that are bothering
us in some way seems all right to me. Most ecologists I know would agree.
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