Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Entomology Exploration:Cat Fleas and Siphonaptera

This Entomology Exploration happened at the spur of the moment when we found out our cats had fleas and figured that we could sketch them and learn more about them before we killed the fleas with medication.


General information on Siphonaptera

Siphonapterans, better known as fleas, are very small parasitic insects often found on mammalian hosts, including humans, cats, and dogs. In some cases, their hosts may be birds or reptiles, although I couldn't find anything on whether or not fleas feed on amphibian blood. The larvae resemble maggots or worms, usually not living on the body of the host but feeding and living on and in the host's feces or poop. They are covered with thin bristles and possess no eyes. The adults are fairly flat and slender in form, with hard exoskeletons and bristled legs, with long back legs adapted for jumping. Their mouthparts are specifically designed to suck blood out of the host. In many cases, they transmit disease, such as bubonic plague from Oriental rat fleas or cat and dog fleas which are intermediate hosts for the Dipylidium caninum tapeworm, which can infect cats, dogs, and humans. 


Information on Cat Fleas 

Cat fleas are small, black to brown parasitic insects that have a very wide range of hosts, residing on cats, dogs, raccoons, possums, skunks, and foxes. Its life cycle involves complete metamorphosis, starting with a small, oval-shaped, white egg, which then hatches into a grub, which then forms a silken cocoon around itself and develops into an adult flea. Interestingly, the adult flea is the only stage which actually resides and feeds on the host. Larvae do not actively feed on the blood of the host, but they will eat almost any organic material from the host, including poop and dried blood. Its range is worldwide and it is the most common species of flea in the United States. 


Citations

Siphonaptera. John R. Meyer. General Entomology. North Carolina State University, 28 Mar. 2016. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. ‹https://www.cals.ncsu.edu/course/ent425/library/compendium/siphonaptera.html›.
Cat Fleas:Life Cycle, Eggs, Bites. Orkin. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. ‹http://www.orkin.com/other/fleas/cat-fleas/›.

My Sketches







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