"So, naturalists observe, a flea has smaller fleas that on him prey; and these have smaller still to bite ’em; and so proceed ad infinitum."
- Jonathan Swift

January 10, 2010

January 3 - Xenopsylla cheopis

As the quote on the top of the pages says, big fleas have little fleas. Well, the Oriental rat flea, Xenopsylla cheopis Rothschild 1903 (Arthropoda: Siphonaptera) isn't exactly crawling with other fleas - but it is often an important vector for other parasites that infect it. Not only does this jumping insect parasitize rats and other mammals by feeding on their blood, it can also be infected by Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that cause the bubonic plague and serve as the intermediate host for certain tapeworms. Doesn't that make you itch just thinking about it?

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