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Brief Summary

    Flea: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia
    For other uses, see Flea (disambiguation). "Siphonaptera" redirects here. For poem, see Siphonaptera (poem).

    Fleas are small flightless insects that form the order Siphonaptera. As external parasites of mammals and birds, they live by consuming the blood of their hosts. Adults are up to about 3 mm (0.12 in) long and usually brown. Bodies flattened sideways enable them to move through their host's fur or feathers; strong claws prevent them from being dislodged. They lack wings, and have mouthparts adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood and hind legs adapted for jumping. The latter enable them to leap a distance of some 50 times their body length, a feat second only to jumps made by froghoppers. Larvae are worm-like with no limbs; they have chewing mouthparts and feed on organic debris.

    Over 2,500 species of fleas have been described worldwide. The Siphonaptera are most closely related to the snow scorpionflies (Boreidae), placing them within the endopterygote insect order Mecoptera.

    Fleas arose in the early Cretaceous, most likely as ectoparasites of mammals, before moving on to other groups including birds. Each species of flea is more or less a specialist on its host animal species: many species never breed on any other host, though some are less selective. Some families of fleas are exclusive to a single host group: for example, the Malacopsyllidae are found only on armadillos, the Ischnopsyllidae only on bats, and the Chimaeropsyllidae only on elephant shrews. The oriental rat flea, Xenopsylla cheopis, is a vector of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium which causes bubonic plague. The disease was spread by rodents such as the black rat, which were bitten by fleas that then infected humans. Major outbreaks included the Plague of Justinian and the Black Death, both of which killed a sizeable fraction of the world's population.

    Fleas appear in human culture in such diverse forms as flea circuses, poems like John Donne's erotic The Flea, works of music such as by Modest Mussorgsky, and a film by Charlie Chaplin.

    Siphonaptera Overview
    provided by EOL authors

    Fleas can be seen in the fossil record as far back as the Middle Jurassic.They can currently be found worldwide.The adults can grow to be one to three millimeters long.They feed on the blood of mammals and birds, which makes them external parasites (ectoparasites).They are wingless and have long legs that allow them to jump horizontally for up to 33 centimeters and vertically for up to 18 centimeters.They have short antennae and spines on their body.Some species lack eyes. Fleas undergo complete metamorphosis. The blind larvae feed on organic matter and then pupate in a silken cocoon.A new adult can only survive for a week without blood, but once blood is obtained they can survive for two to three years without a meal.When hiking in a habitat that contains fleas, it is best to wear white clothing so it will be easier to spot fleas if they jump on you.

    Brief Summary
    provided by EOL authors
    Fleas are obligate ectoparasitesof mammalsand birds. Both males and females use piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed on the blood of their host. Mostspecies are associated with rodents. Adults are small, wingless, laterally flattened insects. They have long legs adapted for jumping, and their bodies are often covered withlarge spines known as ‘combs’ or ctenidia. The legless larvae usually live in the host's nests where they feed on organic matter, including feces and dried blood shed by feeding adults.Some species are vectors of human diseaseincluding plague (Yersinia pestis) and murine typhus (Rickettsiatyphi).

Comprehensive Description