A common misconception about these vampiric household terrors is that they must be able to fly; scaremongering images of fleas with enormous translucent wings are often paraded around the internet, fueling this belief. However, the short and very much favorable answer is no, fleas cannot fly.
Jumping Over Airplanes
Second only to the froghopper, fleas have the longest jump-to-body-size ratio of all known animals. They can leap 7 inches high and over a foot horizontally. In more visual terms, a proportionally powerful human could leap across the wingspan of two Boeing 747 jumbo jets, or halfway up the Great Pyramid at Giza. Suffice to say, it’s no surprise that these crafty insects can find their way onto the legs and body of your pets – or even your mattress – when they are hungry.
Flea Anatomy Explained
We humans are used to animals having either two or four legs; those animals with four tend to rear onto their hind legs for jumping. Fleas have three pairs of legs which can be coiled back into position and held to store energy. When ready to jump, their legs are released like a bolt from a crossbow and they are rocketed through the air. Small claws at the tips of their legs allow them to grasp onto the host.
When looking to slake a thirst, fleas do not waste a moment once they find their host. Most will begin feeding within 5 minutes and will be completely full with an hour or so. That being said, if your pet notices an itch and tries to scratch, the flea can bound away at a moment’s notice. By the time you arrive to check them over, the flea will be long gone. If you notice scratching, or if fleas are a common occurrence in your area, then it’s pivotal than you regularly:
- check your pet for fleas, generally by using a comb such as the Safari Flea Comb for Cats
- vacuum any rugs or carpets and regularly wash your pet’s bedding
These little extras will help get rid of the pesky insects. There are over 2,400 known species of flea in the world and while none of them have wings, they can travel large distances more quickly than many other household pests. Remain vigilant and always try to exterminate them completely if you spot one.