Lance A Durden And Robert Traub

taxonomy 103 morphology 104 life history 106 behavior and ecology 109

fleas of medical-veterinary importance 111 public health importance 113 veterinary importance 120 prevention and control 123 references and further reading 124

Fleas are morphologically unique ectoparasites that are unlikely to be confused with any other arthropods. They are a monophyletic group that has evolutionary ties with the mecopteroid insect orders Mecoptera and Diptera. Fleas evolved from winged ancestors during the late Jurassic or early Cretaceous Period 125-150 million years ago in parallel with marsupial and insectivore hosts. As a group, they have principally evolved as parasites of mammals on which 94% of known species feed, representing 15 families and more than 200 genera of fleas. The remaining 6%, representing 5 families and 25 genera, are ectoparasites of birds.

Coevolution has molded many host-flea associations, as reflected by their host specificity and the morphological adaptations of some fleas that conform to the

MEDICAL AND VETERINARY ENTOMOLOGY Copyright 2002, Elsevier Sciencc (USA). All rights reserved.

morphology of the host skin, fur, or feathers. Although many flea species do not cause significant harm to their hosts in nature, most species that feed on humans and their companion animals are of medical or veterinary importance.

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