- Other Geographic Terms
Cat fleas live in the nests and resting places of their hosts when they are not feeding, and on their hosts when they are feeding. They live in just about any type of habitat, as long as it is warm and humid enough to promote development. (Roberts and Janovy, 2000)
- Terrestrial Biomes
- desert or dune
- savanna or grassland
- scrub forest
Like all fleas, Ctenocephalides canis, but cat fleas have a characteristic sloping forehead. The hind tibia is also different from other flea species in that it lacks an outer apical tooth. All members of the order Siphonaptera have powerful muscles containing resilin, a highly elastic protein, in their legs, which allows these fleas to leap as high as 33 cm.is laterally compressed and wingless. Cat fleas are 2 mm long and reddish-brown to black, with the females being a bit larger than males and a slightly different color. Aside from the slight difference in size and color, the other main distinguishing feature between males and females is the presence of complex, snail-shaped genitalia in males. is distinguished from other fleas by its characteristic ctenidia, or combs; it has a pronotal ctenidium and a genal ctenidium with more than 5 teeth. The morphology of cat fleas is similar to that of dog fleas,
Flea larvae resemble tiny maggots with short bristles and mandibles for chewing. Pupae live encased in silky debris-studded cocoons. (Arnett, 1985; Hubbard, 1968; Roberts and Janovy, 2000; Swan and Papp, 1972)
- Sexual Dimorphism
- female larger
- sexes colored or patterned differently
- sexes shaped differently
- Average length
- 2 mm
- 0.08 in
- Development - Life Cycle
No information is available on the mating system of these fleas.
Flea eggs are fertilized internally. The adult females lay their eggs on their host, but the eggs soon fall into the host's nest, where they develop. The eggs are white, translucent, and approximately 0.5 mm in length. (Marquardt, 2000; Roberts and Janovy, 2000)
- Key Reproductive Features
- year-round breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding interval
- Females lay eggs at frequent intervals while feeding, as long as the temperature and humidity are favorable
- Breeding season
- These fleas can breed year-round; optimal temperatures and humidity occur in the months of June, July, and August in most of the U.S.
Female fleas carry their eggs inside of them, providing them with nourishment until they are laid. After they are laid, there is no further investment on the part of the parents. (Roberts and Janovy, 2000)
- Parental Investment
- Range lifespan
- 3 (high) years
- Range lifespan
Communication and Perception
The pupae are sensitive to fluctuations of carbon dioxide in the environment and also to vibrations. They use these environmental cues to time their emergence from their cocoons. Fleas possess a sensory organ called a pygidium on the posterior portion of their bodies, which allows them to detect vibrations and air currents. No information is available on how these fleas communicate with one another. (Roberts and Janovy, 2000)
After piercing the skin of the host, adult cat fleas use their mouthparts to suck up blood. The bloodmeal then passes through epithelial cells in the gut that are elongated into spines, collectively called the proventriculus, where it is broken up. As their name implies, cat fleas prefer to feed on domestic cats, Felis silvestris. Cat fleas also feed on dogs, rabbits, horses, skunks, foxes, mongooses, koalas, and poultry. They are known to bite humans in the absence of other hosts. In contrast to adult , larvae feed on the feces of the adult cat fleas and detritus in the environment. (Dryden and Gaafar, July 1994; Peterson, 1951; Roberts and Janovy, 2000; Swan and Papp, 1972)
- Animal Foods
- Other Foods
cats. Cat fleas also parasitize dogs, rabbits, horses, skunks, foxes, mongooses, koalas, and poultry. Cat fleas are vectors for murine typhus and intermediate hosts of the most common tapeworm that infects cats and dogs, Dipylidium caninum. They have been known to carry Burrelia burgdorferi, the spirochaete that causes Lyme disease. (Dryden and Gaafar, July 1994; Peterson, 1951; Roberts and Janovy, 2000; Swan and Papp, 1972)is an obligate ectoparasite whose main hosts are
- Ecosystem Impact
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
Ctencephalides felis is a vector of murine typhus in humans, caused by Rickettsia mooseri. It is also the intermediate host of the most common tapeworm that infects domestic cats and dogs, Dipylidium caninum. It has been known to carry Burrelia burgdorferi, the spirochaete that causes Lyme disease, but it does not transfer the disease. All of these conditions require medical attention. The amount of damage in dollars per year is not available, but with the numerous variety of diseases that carries, the additive amount is not likely to be low.is of some medical and economic importance. Most prevalent, but least serious, is the allergic reactions that fleas and their feces induce in some humans and animals. Itching and redness may occur, but with no serious results.
- Negative Impacts
- bites or stings
- carries human disease
- causes or carries domestic animal disease
- household pest
Allison Poor (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Sophia Saeed (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Solomon David (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
- causes or carries domestic animal disease
either directly causes, or indirectly transmits, a disease to a domestic animal
Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by stands of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by periodic fire. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
having a worldwide distribution. Found on all continents (except maybe Antarctica) and in all biogeographic provinces; or in all the major oceans (Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.
- desert or dunes
in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.
particles of organic material from dead and decomposing organisms. Detritus is the result of the activity of decomposers (organisms that decompose organic material).
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
union of egg and spermatozoan
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
- internal fertilization
fertilization takes place within the female's body
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
an organism that obtains nutrients from other organisms in a harmful way that doesn't cause immediate death
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.
an animal that mainly eats blood
- scrub forest
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.
uses touch to communicate
Coniferous or boreal forest, located in a band across northern North America, Europe, and Asia. This terrestrial biome also occurs at high elevations. Long, cold winters and short, wet summers. Few species of trees are present; these are primarily conifers that grow in dense stands with little undergrowth. Some deciduous trees also may be present.
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
- tropical savanna and grassland
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
- temperate grassland
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.
movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others
- year-round breeding
breeding takes place throughout the year
Arnett, R. 1985. American Insects. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company.
Dryden, M., S. Gaafar. July 1994. Blood Consumption by the Cat Flea, Ctenocephalides felis (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae). Journal of Medical Entomology, 28: 394-399.
Hubbard, C. 1968. Fleas of Western North America. New York: Hafner Publishing.
Kern, W., D. Richman, P. Koehler, R. Brenner. May 1999. Outdoor Survival and Development of Immature Cat Fleas (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) in Florida. Journal of Medical Entomology, 36: 207-211.
Marquardt, W. 2000. Parasitology and Vector Biology. USA: Harcourt Academic Press.
Peterson, A. 1951. Larvae of Insects. Ann Arbor: Edward Brothers, Inc..
Roberts, L., J. Janovy. 2000. Foundations of Parasitology, Sixth Edition. USA: McGraw Hill.
Swan, L., C. Papp. 1972. The Common Insects of North America. USA: Harper & Row.