Friday, 5 December 2008

Fleas don't always jump

I was watching the "Invasion of the body scratchers" yesterday with Mike Leahy and it just happened to be the one where he looks at ticks and fleas. One thing that was obvious from the section on fleas was that they don't actually spend all of the time jumping. Perhaps, Fleas jumping is just something they do when a new food source (person or animal) arrives in the area they are dormant.

Amoret Whitaker from the Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum provided some clarification.

"Most film footage of fleas probably shows them in isolation, when they are likely to do a fair amount of jumping, as they are trying to find a new host to settle on. However, once located on a suitable host, they will move around by crawling/walking through the hair/fur, and are unlikely to do much jumping unless disturbed, or the host dies, in which case they will try to jump onto a new (live) host. They will spend most of the time on the host itself, although adult fleas will also be found in the host's "nest" eg. cat basket, bird's nest etc."

Amoret Whitaker (nee Brandt) is a renowned flea expert and responsible for the recently updated and catchily named "RES Handbook Volume 1 Part 16: Fleas (Siphonaptera) 2nd Edition" she is currently working on Forensic Entomology.

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