A cat flea’s life cycle

A flea’s life cycle begins with one tiny, tiny egg
One fertilized female can lay up to 2,000 eggs in her short lifetime. Within weeks, your home could easily be overrun with an army of hopping fleas.
An infestation of adult fleas is really only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak
A pet owner needs to apply flea control measures to the remaining fleas as they progress through the four stages of a flea’s life cycle. The fleas are distributed in their life cycle as follows: 50 percent eggs, 35 percent larvae, 10 percent pupas, and only 5 percent adult fleas.
Fleas are adaptable little creatures. If environmental conditions aren’t ideal (such as temperature and moisture level) they can ‘wait it out’ and remain in one life stage for some time. When conditions improve for them, they will then move on to the next stage.
Flea eggs
Given the sole purpose of a flea’s life is to breed, the adult female gets busy. After one blood meal she can lay about 50 eggs a day, usually in batches of about 20. The eggs are deposited on the skin or fur of the host, in this case your pet.
Flea eggs are oval shaped, white and very tiny – about 1/50th of an inch long (0.5mm). To the naked eye they look like very small grains of white sand. Over time, the eggs usually slide off your cat’s body.
Because of their small size they can find a safe haven in the tiniest of cracks or crevices … and tend to accumulate in areas that your pet frequents … such as bedding, favorite resting spots, furniture or carpets.
Flea eggs usually hatch in two to 14 days. The eggs can remain in a ‘ready to hatch’ mode for several months.
Stage two of a flea’s life cycle – the flea larvae emerge
In the second stage of a flea’s life cycle the newly hatched larvae arrive on the scene. A flea larva looks very much like a small, hairy white worm and has no eyes or legs.
They are somewhat transparent and have a brownish head. At maturity, a larva can measure about 1/5th of an inch (5mm).
A flea larva is able to move about by using its body bristles. It consumes organic material on the floor or ground, such as dander, food particles and pet feces. A larva also feeds on flea dirt, that is, the digested blood or feces of the already existing adult fleas.
Flea larvae thrive in a warm, damp and dark environment. They can be found ‘hanging out’ in the same spots as flea eggs – your cat’s bedding, carpets, cracks in floors.
During this stage of a flea’s life cycle, larvae will molt (shed their skin) three times as they grow. After one to four weeks a flea larva is ready to enter the third stage of the life cycle. A larva can remain ‘in waiting’ for more than six months.
Number three – the cocoon or pupa stage of the flea’s life cycle
To prepare for the third stage of a flea’s life cycle the fully developed larva spins itself a silky cocoon using its saliva and adding in any surrounding particles of debris for camouflage purposes. The off-white cocoon measures about ¼ inch (7mm) in length.
The flea larva then pupates in the cocoon – while undergoing internal changes that transforms its basic larval structure to that of an adult flea. The pupa stage lasts about a week.
Warmer temperatures will allow the larva to develop quickly. If cooler, the flea demonstrates, once more, how well it can adapt to its environment and will remain, if necessary, in this stage for many months.
The adult flea
The final stage of the flea’s life cycle finds the adult flea happily passing the time inside its cocoon waiting for its first blood meal to arrive. They can survive in their cocoons for one year.
Adult fleas know when a potential host is present by sensing movement, warmth and higher levels of carbon dioxide.
Vibrations also stimulate adult fleas. Vacuums and footsteps are two examples. (No dancing.) When cooler weather arrives, the vibrations from your furnace can cause adult fleas to emerge from their cocoons.
a flea holding a sign that says glad to flea ya!
Within seconds, the adult fleas appear and jump on to their host.
Once onboard, a female flea will grab a mate. After one blood meal, the fertilized female will begin to lay her eggs and the flea’s life cycle is complete.

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