Stick fleas are commonly referred to as sticktight fleas or stick-fast fleas. This type of flea is commonly found on chickens, but they have been known to attach to cats, dogs, horses, pigs, cows and humans. The stick flea is one of the smallest fleas, measuring .16 inches long. But despite its tiny size it is still a nuisance to livestock, and it is important to prevent this type of flea.
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Most common fleas jump from host to host. Stick fleas prefer to burrow into the flesh and they have a tendency to remain in one area. They oftentimes cluster around the fleshy areas of the animal. They are most common on chickens where they congregate around the eyes and wattles. They appear like brown specks on the flesh. On other animals, stick fleas can be found along the ear or even between toes.
Stick fleas lay eggs into the flesh of the animal it is attached to. Tiny bumps appear in the area where the eggs are laid. Once the flea larvae has hatched they fall from the host animal onto the ground. They then live on the ground for approximately two weeks, where they build a cocoon to protect themselves. Once they hatch they attach to the other animals in that area.
Stick flea infestations can cause severe health problems for animals. The fleshy infected areas become red, inflamed and irritated. It is known to cause blindness since they tend to infest the eye area. The animals infected may stop eating and may even develop anaemia. These animals are also at risk for other bacterial infections due to the state of the animal's immune system. This type of infestation has even been known to kill the animals.
You will be able to see the stick fleas, and you can pull them out using tweezers. However, if the infestation is severe, use carbaryl. Sprinkle it in the home of the animals. Petroleum jelly also can be applied to the chickens to smother the fleas. There are several flea products, but use caution when applying it, making sure to avoid getting the product into the animal's eyes. Follow all label instructions. If you want to prevent infestation, consider placing birds in cages that are at least 3 feet above the ground. This will prevent the spread of this type of flea.
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- All Pest.info; Sticktight flea: Echidnophaga gallinacea
- Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet; Less Common External Parasites in Poultry; Carrie L. Pickworth and Teresa Y. Morishita
- Univeristy of Florida IFAS;Sticktight Flea, Echidnophaga gallinacea; P. G. Koehler, R. M. Pereira and P. E. Kaufman; 2009