The hair on your arm crawls whenever you think of a flea. The terror that fleas can put you through is simply comparable to nothing; it is worse when you get to finally see it with your eye. Fleas’ sizes are not anywhere near comparable to the amount of anguish and damage they cause to both humans and pets. Apart from the discomfort and uneasiness of the itches, flea bites can cause serious infections that are life-threatening at some point. Fleas lay eggs in large numbers-ranging between four and eight after every time they feed- and they take several months to mature into adult fleas, dropping in large numbers enough to cause a severe infestation for an entire home!
Fleas are highly distinguished from other pets, thanks to their very peculiar body shape. They look somewhat deformed, complete with legs that are not proportional to each other. The hind legs are long, many times longer than the front legs, but this can only be seen when the flea takes its mighty leap (the primary mode of movement)
Fleas are tiny, so tiny that you might not see it clearly with the naked eye. You have to look very carefully, and know what to look for before you can tell it is a flea. They are approximately 2.5mm long or less depending on the flea type. Look out for a deep red color (because of the blood it sucks) or a red-brown color; an adult flea can be seen through a bright-colored pet’s fur.
Under the microscope, fleas have bodies covered in tiny smooth hairs that point backward. These allow for smooth operation as they move endlessly through the fur of pets or the soft wool in your carpet. Technically, fleas are incredibly streamlined to keep moving forward.
The body of a flea is covered in a hard external series of sclerites, which are basically some form of exoskeleton cartilages that are meant to protect it from any harm; however great. For the practical aspect of this, catch a flea (a tough thing to do) and try to squeeze it between your nails. Then release your nails and look; it will jump away unscathed. It is extremely hard to kill a flea with your bare hands, let alone catch one.
The mouth of the flea has been programmed in such a way that it has sturdy spikes around it, and one long hard sucker through which it sucks the blood out of its host upon biting. The sucker is very tiny, probably why the flea bites are extremely small and hard to see until you scratch them to reveal the little red lump.
Fleas move around by jumping; their legs have been built specifically to allow for that. Strong hind legs and strong front legs allow for a perfect combination of power and speed, and that is why if you see a flea, it will be long gone before you can take a second look at it.
A tip from the experts reveals that fleas love to move around when it is dark as opposed to when it is bright. So, if you want to know how a flea looks like to your human eye, sneak up on your pet with a torch; you will see it clearly.
More Flea Tips
Since a flea can hop up to six feet away, catching it to examine it might be a little tricky. There are other practical ways of knowing what they look like to your naked eye.
- They bite, and they bite hard. Just linger around your dog’s kennel with a part of your legs exposed. It will be a few seconds before one or more hungry fleas jump to feed on your blood!
- Check your feet around the ankles for tiny, red bumps. Flea bites are small but extremely itchy; this will prove to you there are fleas around you.
- Catch a bug and try squeezing it between your nails; if you crush it, that is no flea. But if it jumps away unharmed, that is a flea.
- Look through your pet’s fur, you might not make out the exact shape of a flea, but if you can see tiny reddish-brown figures under the skin, then you got fleas to handle.
Note: Prevention is always better than cure. There are many ways of preventing the infestation of fleas. But begin with the use of dog flea collars as recommended by experts. So far, they are the best at controlling these grotesque little terrorists in your pets and home at large.