Spring is the season of the flea. An adult female flea can lay as many as 2,000 eggs in its 50-day lifespan, but it needs fresh blood to do so. The flea can jump 100 times its own size. The flea is skilled at keeping out of sight and zipping between hairs. Your pet may have fleas even if you have not seen them.
If you think that your cat or dog may have fleas but you are unable to see any bugs on your pet you may be asking yourself, “Perhaps my pet has baby fleas that are very small.” Or you may have examined your pet only to find little black specks and you are wondering if perhaps those little black specs are baby fleas. Baby fleas are not actually found on the host animal. And those little black specks, although not baby fleas, may be proof that your animal does indeed have an infestation. Flea faeces appear as little black specks. If you crush flea faeces in between your finger or a tissue they will turn red. That is your animal's blood.
Fleas have the same life cycle as caterpillars. The adult female flea lays eggs. These eggs are visible to the naked human eye and are roughly the size of a grain of salt. The larvae hatches out of the egg in maggot form. Baby fleas look like small, white maggots. The maggots spin themselves into little cocoons and hatch out as adult fleas ready for action. All adult fleas are roughly the same size.
Baby fleas do not live on the host animal. They live in the host animal's nest. This could include your pet's bed, your bed or your carpets. Flea larvae do not feed on fresh blood. Instead they eat organic debris and the adult flea droppings that contain the dried blood. After about two to three weeks in this stage, the flea spins it cocoon.
Baby fleas in their cocoon need a stimulus to emerge. In about two to three weeks, the baby fleas will feel the vibrations caused by the host animal and will emerge. If there is no stimulus, then they will not emerge. It can sometimes happen that when you move into an empty apartment the dormant fleas will hatch. Some flea cacoons can survive weather that is no warm enough or humid enough to emerge when the weather is right.
Fleas prefer cats and dogs but they will also bite you. If you are getting small itchy bite marks, especially on your ankles, this could be a sign that you have fleas in your carpets. Fleas can also carry disease. Fleas put your pets at risk for tapeworm. Some animals are allergic to flea larvae. Make sure to treat any outside pets with flea treatments to protect your pet and your house.