March 6, 2010
March 6 - Ctenocephalides felis
The cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis, is by no means restricted to just cats. In fact, it is quite happy taking blood meals from just about any warm-blooded mammal, though it is in fact, most commonly found on cats and dogs. Adult fleas take blood meals from their mammalian hosts and then lay their eggs on the host’s fur. The eggs don’t usually stick there, though and will fall out with the fur into the bedding or other environment. Larvae hatch out of the eggs and then will begin to eat just about anything organic lying around – commonly their parents’ feces, which are of course made of dried blood (shown in photo). The larvae will eventually spin a cocoon and pupate and then the adult pops out and looks for a mammal so it can start feeding. Generally, C. felis does not cause many problems, other than the annoyance of feeling them jump around and bite and the allergic reactions that occur in some animals and people. They do transmit a worm, however. We will meet that parasite tomorrow.