Fleas are parasitic pests that cause significant discomfort for both pets and humans. They feed on blood and their bites can cause itching, irritation, and even transmit diseases.
These tiny insects are known for their ability to jump long distances and quickly infest homes, especially those with pets. Once they’ve established a foothold, they can be challenging to eliminate completely.
Common pest species found in New York:
Despite their name, “cat” fleas are the most common species of flea found on both dogs and cats in the United States.
Once an unsuspecting pet picks up fleas outside and brings into the home, they may end up breeding and infesting pet bedding, furniture. floors, carpets, and walls.
Besides cats and dogs, these blood-sucking, disease-spreading pests pose a health risk to humans as well. Flea bites resemble bed bugs bites (itchy, red bumps), but they tend to be concentrated around ankles and legs.
(Photo: Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org)
Size: 1/16–1/8 inch long (1.5-3 mm); about the length of a crayon tip
Color: Reddish-brown to black
Shape: Laterally flattened, oval-shaped body with a small head and 6 legs; does not have wings
Legs: 6 spiny, spring-like legs adapted for jumping; hind legs are particularly long and well-developed
Antennae: Tiny, club-like antennae that are too small to see with the naked eye
Head: Small, sloping head with piercing-sucking mouthparts for feeding on blood; look for 2 characteristic rows of small black spines (combs) on both sides of its head resembling a mustache (genal comb) and a mane of hair (pronotal comb)
Body: Laterally flattened (appears flat when laid on its side) with overlapping body segments; covered with dark spines