CAT FLEA

Key features

The cat flea is small at around 2 mm long, reddish brown in colour and is flattened laterally, a feature which enables it to move easily amongst the hair of its vertebrate host.
The most distinctive features of the cat flea are the large ;limping legs and the row of black non-sensory spines on the front margin of the head and on the rear of the first thoracic segment. These bristles or combs are a diagnostic feature of the cat flea.The eyes are apparent as are the antennae, and the mouthparts, adapted for piercing and sucking, are typically seen projecting downwards from the head.

Biology

After mating. the female flea lays several hundred eggs in batches after each blood meal in the cat’s fur, bedding. resting site and in areas where the cat is to be found. The eggs are small (0.5 mm) white and oval in shape.
From the egg emerges the larval stage which is again white in colour, legless but covered in large bristles. The larvae are not blood suckers but feed on general organic debris which is to be found in the lair of the cat. When mature, the flea larva is about 5 mm long and it spins a cocoon of silk which very quickly gets covered in a large amount of dust and debris.The pupa develops within the silken cocoon and when triggered by suitable stimuli such as vibration, the adults emerge to feed on the cat.

Distribution


Worldwide. Significance

Although the cat and dog are the preferred hosts far cat fleas, they are capable of feeding an humans, and frequently do.
The distress caused by the bites can be considerable in cats and humans. C. fells fells is an intermediate host for the cestode tapeworm, apylidium caninum, which normally develops in the digestive tract of dogs, cats and some wild carnivores, but also occurs in man and particularly young children.
Vibration as a trigger for the adults to emerge from the pupa, mentioned above, frequently means that humans who go into an empty premises where cats had previously been “in residence” suffer a high level of attack.

Control

Treatment consists of identifying the source of the infestation, i.e. the host animal(s), and if appropriate treating it with a suitable veterinary product. Such a treatment should not be carried out by a pest control technician but by the owner of the animal or a veterinarian
A residual insecticide should then be applied to areas frequented by the animal. A carbamate containing bendiocarb or a residual synthetic pyrethroid would be suitable for this purpose.

Illustration: Ctenocephalides fells fells adult female.
Although the cat flea is the most common there are several types of fleas that can infest our homes work places and other premises.

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