Veterinary practices are gearing up for a busy summer as flea infestations continue to surge due to the UK’s wetter summers and milder winters.

Pharmaceutical giant Bayer, manufacturer of Advantage flea treatment and control, has launched a “Man v Flea” project in which it investigates the remarkable biology of the insects, highlighting the flea’s unique strength and life cycle that has enabled it to survive and prosper over the past 60 million years.

The project findings were uncovered from various sources, including expert parasitologists and researchers from across the globe.

One finding revealed the skin-crawling fact that 95% of the flea population exist in immature stages in the surrounding environment of pets, which could include carpets and furnishings, waiting for the presence of a host to feed on, sensing movement, warmth and even breath of a passing host.

Resilient fleas inside pupae can remain in this dormant state in the home for a number of months under the right conditions, even surviving vacuuming.

Other fantastic flea facts:

  • A single female will lay up to 50 eggs per day and about 500 during its lifespan. Hypothetically, it would take less than two months for one flea to generate more offspring than the number of humans on this planet – about 7.152 billion.
  • One flea can bite a pet up to 400 times a day, potentially feeding up to 15 times its own body weight, which is why animals with a severe infestation can become anaemic. 
  • Adult fleas are able to survive up to 62 days without a blood meal, whereas humans will not last much longer than three days without water and up to two months without food.
  • Fleas are able to jump an impressive 340mm, 160 times their own length, at speeds reaching 4.3mph and subjecting the flea to forces in excess of 100Gs. British long-jumper Greg Rutherford recorded a gold-medal-winning jump of 8.31 metres at the London Olympics, just four times his own length, while top astronauts can withstand a gravitational force of only 5Gs before passing out.

There are more than 2,000 described species and subspecies of flea across the globe, with the cat flea (ctenocephalides felis) being the most prominent species affecting cats and dogs in the UK.

Famed primarily for their itchy bites, fleas can cause more significant damage, including the transmission of diseases, some of which can affect humans. Pets and owners alike can also suffer severe allergic reactions to flea saliva resulting in dermatitis that can be a real source of misery. 

The active ingredient in Advantage kills adult fleas within 24 hours, which is critically before they lay their eggs, preventing the build-up of flea populations in the home environment. It is available prescription free.

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