Fleas (Ctenocephalides felis)

Where Usually Found

On cats, dogs, carpets, bedclothes, dusty floors, out houses, birds’ nests and other places in which warm blooded animals sleep.

What they do

Pierce the skin to feed on blood. An anti-coagulant is injected and the blood is sucked through a tube-like device made from several of the flea’s mouth parts. Serious diseases such as bubonic plague, murine or endemic typhus and tapeworms may be transmitted by fleas, but instances are rare in New Zealand and Australia. More commonly, irritation and sensitivity to the ‘bites’ provoke scratching, damaging the surface of the skin and leading to infection from other sources. The breeding of fleas increases in warm. humid weather.

How to control (by natural methods)

Do not keep cats, dogs or birds inside your home, and do not allow your neighbours animals to enter your house or garden. Vacuum carpets and upholstery frequently. Dry-clean bedding and clothing. Keep floors washed or swept. Have smooth surfaced floors, leather or plastic upholstery rather than carpets as woollen fabrics and floorboards have cracks in which fleas can hide.

Life history and other comments

Like all successful and common animals, fleas are adapted for their particular way of life. The body is flattened so that it can easily slip between the hairs or feathers of the animal on which it lives. Fleas live only on warm-blooded animals. Each of a flea’s six legs has at its tip a pair of claws for clinging to hair, feathers or skin. A flea’s skin is slippery to the touch so that it is not easily damaged by the host’s scratching. Although fleas have no wings which would help them find an animal on which to live, they are able to jump higher in relation to their size than any other animal. The flea’s ability to jump to a height of about 18 cm enables it to hop onto a passing animal. Fleas take more blood from their victim than they need. Much blood passes through the flea’s body in an almost undigested form. These droppings harden and fall from the host, but they are not wasted, for fleas in the young stages eat this material. The flea is an insect which, like butterflies, has two complete changes in the form of its body during its lifetime. The young fleas are grub-like larvae. They feed on pieces of skin, hair, coagulated blood and other bits of material of animal origin. After sufficient food the larva starts the inactive pupa stage of its life. An adult flea emerges from the pupa case after several weeks. Its actual emergence may be triggered by the vibrations of a passing animal. The adult thus emerges when food is ready. Adult fleas do not always remain on the host the whole time, but usually drop off between feeds. Most small animals have short lives, fleas, however, are relatively long-lived and may live for a year or longer.

Where to obtain professional advice


Melvyn or Kevin Gilbert. Phone. 03 3841636 (NEW ZEALAND)

Enquires and bookings

For inquires and free advice you can contact us via email admin@cpc.net.nz or on 03 384 1636 from 8.30am - 5pm Monday to Friday.

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03 3841636