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Common Flea Species

The main concern about fleas and ticks is usually the distress and discomfort that their bites may cause you or your beloved pet. Learn more about the lifecycles and habits of these blood-suckers that are commonly found in Adelaide .

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Cat Flea

(Ctenocephalides felis)

Cat fleas are often unable to determine whether a host is suitable until it has been bitten. If it is deemed unsuitable, the flea soon drops off.


  • Cat fleas are 3mm long wingless ticks, flattened from side to side with long legs enabling them to jump.
  • They have both genal and pronotal combs (ctenidia), differentiating them from most other fleas of domestic animals.

Life cycle

  • Fleas pass through four stages: eggs, larva, pupa, adult. The eggs are small and white. These stages combined vary from two weeks to eight months.
  • The adult flea is awakened by the detection of vibration of pet or human movement, pressure, heat, noise, or carbon dioxide for potential blood meals.
  • A cat flea cannot complete its life–cycle feeding only on human blood.


  • Cat fleas nest where the host is in its usual resting place, for example the cat basket. This is where the young often drop to mature.

Dog Flea

(Ctenocephalides canis)

Adult Dog fleas feed on the blood of dogs and cats, and they occasionally bite humans.

It is a vector of the Dog Tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum, which can also affect humans.


  • Adult is brownish black in colour, but appear reddish–black after a blood meal.
  • Adult dog fleas are 1 to 4 mm long. The legless larva is off–white and measures up to 5 mm long.

Life cycle

  • The fleas go through a four–stage life cycle: eggs, larvae, pupae, adult.
  • The larvae are longer than the adults and feed on particles of dry blood, excrement, and organic substances.


  • The body is laterally flattened, which allows it to move easily through an animal’s fur. Spines project backwards from the body of the flea, which help it to hold onto the host animal during grooming.
  • As they can jump approximately 6 inches, they can move from host to host. They can also infest garden lawns.

Bird Flea

(Ceratophyllus gallinae)

Bird fleas can multiply tremendously in hen houses, batteries, breeders and other similar locations.


  • Adult bird fleas are generally brownish in colour, and 0.8 - 8 mm long.
  • The antennae as well as their eyes are noticeable. Their mouth parts project downwards from their head and are well adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood.
  • The most common bird flea is the hen flea.


  • They live for a short time indoors and only in nests.
  • Bird fleas breed during the nesting period when the host and/or young provide regular blood meals.


  • Adult bird fleas live in bird nests. When the birds move from the nest, the adult fleas must find a new host.
  • If the nest is reused, the pupae will hatch, mate and continue the breeding cycle.
  • Bird fleas can multiply enormously in hen houses, breeders, batteries etc.

Check for common signs of fleas like eggs and scratching pets.

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