Oriental Rat Flea
|Common Name||Oriental Rat Flea||
|Scientific Name||Xenopsylla cheopis|
|Size||1/16 - 1/8 inch long|
|Description||Wingless, hard-bodied (difficult to crush between fingers), have
three pairs of legs. Allowing easy movement between the hair, fur or
feathers of the host are excellent jumpers, leaping vertically up to
seven inches and horizontally thirteen inches. They have
piercing-sucking mouthparts and spines on the body projecting backward.
Also, there is a row of spines on the face known as a genal comb. Spine
I (first outer spine) is shorter than Spine II (next inner spine) in dog
fleas. Both spines are about the same length in the cat flea. Larvae are
1/4-inch long, slender, straw-colour, brown headed, wormlike,
bristly-haired creatures (13 body segments), that are legless, have
chewing mouthparts, are active, and avoid light. Pupae are enclosed in
silken cocoons covered with particles of debris.
|Habitat||They are commonly found in clothing, bedding or near
areas where host animals sleep or in the fur of the host animal. Fleas
spread through homes, buildings and yards.
|Type of Damage||Flea bites cause a persistent,
annoying itch. Scratching the area of the bite causes the skin to be
irritated. Some fleas, especially the oriental rat fleas, are capable of
transmitting diseases such as endemic typhus and bubonic plague.
Fortunately, such instances of disease transmission to humans are rare
in the southeastern United States.
|Sources / Breeding||Eggs loosely lie in the hair coat; drop out most
anywhere especially where the host rests, sleeps or nests (rugs,
carpets, upholstered furniture, cat or dog boxes, kennels, sand boxes,
Trim lawns and weeds to create a drier, less-ideal environment for flea larvae. Avoid piles of sand and gravel around the home for long periods of time. Fence yards to prevent dogs from roaming freely in heavily infested areas or contacting other infested animals. Discourage nesting or roosting of rodents and birds on or near the premises. Screen or seal vents, chimneys, crevices, etc. where rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, etc. may use to enter crawlspaces and buildings. Wash or destroy pet bedding, regularly groom pets and vacuum frequently to remove up to 95 percent of the flea eggs, some larvae and adults. Only about 20 percent of the larvae might be removed when vacuuming since they wrap themselves around the bottom strands of carpeting.
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