Fleas Suck!

I'm quite sure most of you are thinking the exact same thing. If I asked you why you thought they sucked, I know you can all give me various reasons that all have their own merit. However, I will ask a somewhat different question: why do fleas suck blood? Specifically, why do fleas need blood?

While some insects bite as a defensive measure against perceived threats, a flea bites in order to feed. Fleas attack a variety of warm-blooded animals including dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, rats - and apparently humans, too. Young flea larvae feed on dead skin cells, mature fleas' fecal matter, and other debris found on the skin of its host. Adult fleas, on the other hand, need blood for two very important reasons: Female fleas need blood to complete their reproductive cycle; male fleas need blood to grow.

Fleas usually live and breed where pets sleep - on their beds or on the carpet. Those who come near these resting places are also subject to flea attack. Fleas will feed on humans as well as on pets. The usual targets of flea bites are the ankles and the lower portion of the legs.

Avoiding Flea Bites Flea bites can be avoided by something as simple as regular pet grooming. If you see small black specks on your pet's skin or fur, this is probably dried blood from flea droppings. Most of the time, these are more obvious than the fleas themselves. If you suspect a flea problem on your pet, run a fine-toothed comb through its fur and flick any debris into a container of soapy water. Flea feces contain blood and will turn the water pink. Once you're certain there are fleas on your pet, follow the steps listed below:

  • Groom your pet regularly, daily if possible, with a fine-toothed comb to remove the fleas.

  • Dip the dog in a pyrethrin dip. A pyethrin dip is a concentrate that kills and repels fleas, ticks, lice, gnats, mosquitoes and flies. You can buy one in your local pet store. Choose one that has low toxicity and a residual effect.
  • Clean your house thoroughly, especially the areas where your pet sleeps or spends most of its time.