A small laterally compressed wingless insect, yellow to black in colour with backward facing spines. They are an ectoparasite of mammals and birds and feed on the blood of the host when adult. Crawling or leaping away to a new host if/when the host dies.
The adult flea will live on the host or will be found alongside the larvae which will occupy cracks and crevices as well as the carpet of houses and bedding of the host animal, feeding on the faecal matter of the adult fleas. The human flea P.irritans is also a known pest of the red fox, the hedgehog and the badger.
The signs of an adult infestation will be most readily recognised by the presence of bite marks on the host, most commonly found around the ankles and areas of the body which come into close proximity to the adult harbourage.
1. The British Pest Management Manual. Section 5, pg 143.
2. ‘Pest Animals in Buildings, a world review’. Norman Hickin pg 175.
3. Lab notes, Tarakan International.