All fleas live as parasites on warm blooded animals, including humans, and although the different species prefer their own host, the dog and cat flea can be found on and feeds from humans and other animals. If you suspect that you may have an infestation of fleas, either by suffering skin irritations, or spots on the skin of unknown origins, or indeed by seeing them, you should first check any bedding used by your pets and the cat or dog itself for any signs. Cat fleas account for the most common and largest infestations in London.
In London the following fleas are most commonly found:
The Cat Flea (Ctenocephalides felis)
The Dog Flea (Ctenocephaides canis)
And occasionally The Human Flea (Pulex irritans)
Problems with fleas tend to be at their greatest during September when the flea population tends to be at its peak, and can cause the most problems in areas of population of high density. In London fleas are not generally found to spread infections but do however inflict an unpleasant and irritating bite on their hosts.
The females lay their eggs in the nest or bedding of the infested animals or in dust and crevices in buildings. The eggs then develop into bristly, legless larvae which pupate and turn into adults within approximately 7 weeks. Eggs are small oval shaped and pearl white. Larvae thrive in dark humid places. The pupa can remain through the winter, and emerge when triggered by the movement of a suitable host. Their life cycle is generally 4 weeks but can be longer in cold weather.
Adult Fleas are about 2-7mm long and brownish in colour. Their bodies are compressed which allows them to move efficiently through hairs, and their relatively large hind limbs allow them to have excellent jumping qualities.