Fleas

hp iii-: ORDER SlPHONAPTERA is

_ divided into 18 families and 2,000

species of flea. These brown, shiny, and wingless insects have tough, laterally flattened bodies covered with backward-pointing spines and bristles. The enlarged hindlegs arc part of a unique jumping mechanism involving energy storage in rubberlike pads of protein. Fleas have specialized mouthparts for sucking blood. They are ectoparasites, living on the outside of a host animal and feeding on it without killing it.

Less host-specific than parasitic lice (see pp.83—84), some fleas arc found on over 30 host species - mostly terrestrial mammals but also birds. Metamorphosis is complete. The larvae do not suck blood, but scavenge on the excrement of adult fleas, detritus, and dried blood.

0rder SlPHONAPTKRA

Family HYSTRICIIOPSYLLIDAKNo. of species 8()

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