Are fleas unisex?

Table of Contents

Dogs have been man’s closest friends for many generations, and the adorable furry cats come next. Our ancestors took them away from their habitation in the wild and domesticated them at home.

Fleas are not our friends, but they do find their way to our house anyway. We only know them for the way they bite and make our body and that of our pets itch, coupled with the way they multiply till they become an unbearable nuisance.


Are fleas unisex
Are fleas unisex

Fleas are annoying ectoparasites that live off the blood of their victims, just like mosquitoes. They feed on their host and use them as a shield against the harsh environmental conditions they will experience outside the host. Their favorite part of the body is around the fur. They reside there and lay multiple eggs there daily.

According to scientific findings, there are over 2000 species of fleas around the world that have been identified and more are still being discovered yearly. 

Certain flea species carefully have developed to choose a particular prey that they and their offspring will keep feeding on perpetually, even though they may settle for another type of host if their preferred is not within the environment. 

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Did you know that fleas may sometimes be “fleased” on by another flea? Some species of fleas are big enough for other smaller species to feed on. Humans, pets, and even birds( this means there are fleas capable of staying on their host at high altitude) have their own specific flea species that attack them primarily. 

Looking with human eyes, you may find it difficult to tell if fleas are hermaphrodites, or they have a male and female population. In this article, you will learn about their sexuality and some unique characteristics that they possess. Other useful tips include some homemade remedies that you can use to kick them out of your residence and keep them away for a long time will be shared somewhere in the article as you keep reading.

More About Fleas

The most commonly found species of fleas that live with us at home are cat fleas. As the name implies, these fleas love to live and feed on cat skin; this means that your cat is the most likely housemate to introduce a flea into your home. However, these fleas can then move from cats to dogs and even humans as their population increases, and the insatiable demand for blood builds up. They lay eggs on their host, and these eggs are carried around by the host until they drop off, usually at a position where the host visits frequently, e.g., bed.

Cat flea larvae are about 4 mm in size and can pass through the fur of their host. 

Fleas have evolved over thousands of years to drink blood and produce large numbers of eggs. Each adult female can produce about 40 eggs a day. That means if your pet has only 20 adult fleas and half of the fleas are female, they will produce 400 per day and 12,000 per month on average.

They became famous after the extinction of the dinosaurs, thanks to newly emerging niches on mammals who survived the catastrophe that saw the other species of animals go into extinction.

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General Characteristics of Adult Fleas

Every flea is an adult; there are no baby fleas. Once they emerge from their pupa phase, they become adults. They may increase in size due to the amount of food they consume. 

A flea’s body and senses are developed to make it capable of looking for a host, moving onto the host to build a residence, feed on the host in a way that it can stay nourished after many days, and the nourishment can sustain its offspring. 

The secret behind the amazing jumping ability of a flea lies in its rear legs. The muscles in the leg work in perfect synchrony to give the flea an extraordinary jumping power. During a jump, the flea maneuvers and tumbles in the air like a circus star, and the hair on its body helps it grip firmly onto the body of a host in an instant. The streamlined structure of a flea gives it the ability to coast through the air with little obstruction due to air friction.

Navigating the way around the fur of a host is never a problem for the flea because of its size and hair, which works like a velcro dart. 

Once a flea has successfully taken up residence on a host body, the next line of action is to start feeding on the host to facilitate rapid reproduction. A flea primarily feeds on blood, so it bites the host’s body until it gains access to fresh and warm blood. Once it gets to where the blood is, it will start sucking. Since the host might become aware when fleas bite and end up frustrated and sending them away, fleas have developed a method to bite without the host feeling any pain until they are done with their nefarious activity. They achieve this by making the area they intend to bite become numb by rubbing their saliva on it before biting. 

It is an allergic reaction that happens as a result of the contact the saliva makes with the skin that causes the area to itch in both humans and pets. The flea’s mouth part is specially developed to siphon the host’s blood by piercing deep into the skin like a syringe.

Fleas are known to feed for an extended period of time. As they feed, they release fecal waste, which is coagulated blood, and this is used to feed the next generation of Fleas. They release the fecal waste around the same place where they lay their eggs so that the larvae can easily get food to eat once they come out of the eggs.

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Amazing Jumpers

Some Cambridge scholars carried out a recent bid to study the motion of fleas. As a result, they discovered that the secret to fleas’ fast movement is their impressive jumping skills. 

They carried out the experiment with the aid of a high-speed video camera (capable of recording microseconds of actions); they were able to examine how this creature propels itself from a position of rest to high height every step of the way. Based on their observations, fleas achieve their fast motion by releasing the energy locked up around their thorax region, by pushing their legs down their toes and leaping up.

After going through video footage of over 50 jumps made by ten different fleas, the scientists discovered that the hops originated from their toes. This is very unlike the jumping action in most other creatures. The jumping force in most creatures originates from their knees. 

These researchers also found out that the speed at which they take this leap can get up to 1.9 meters per second, which means they can jump as high as 30cms in a short frame of time.

Fleas are a major pest living with us, and they are mostly found on our pets, lawns, and beddings and carpets inside our house. There are several species of fleass, but the cat flea seems to be the most common according to pest control professionals. If you are currently facing a flea infestation in your house, then the likely culprit is a cat flea. 

An adult flea is a final stage of the flea development cycle, comprised of egg, Larvae, Pupae, and finally, Adult. The entire process is referred to as complete metamorphosis. 

I suppose that it would probably surprise you to know an adult flea only comprises a small fraction of their entire flea population. Statistically, they are only about 20% of the entire population. This means if you begin to see mature fleas in large numbers, you should know that your house is in trouble. 

If you can fully grasp the entire development stages a flea needs to go through before it eventually matures into adulthood, you know how to deal with them better.

Special Flea Characteristics

● They can locate a potential host by paying attention to slight movement and vibration, coupled with the warmth on their body and skin humidity.

● They possess an incredible jumping ability that makes them able to land on a host from a great distance.

● Their hair helps them trap onto their host’s body and navigate their way around the body through the fur.

● Their saliva helps to numb their host’s skin, making it difficult to spot them while they bite and drink blood.

● Their mouth is specifically designed to pierce deep into the skin of their host and suck blood.

● They can suck so much blood that will sustain them for several months and even nourish their larvae.

● Their feces dries up quickly and doesn’t stick to the body of their host.

● Their egg is tiny and drops off very easily, like their feces.

● Their larvae feed on the adult’s feces, and even though they are without eyes and legs, they know they can easily locate it.

● The saliva from their larvae acts as a glue for the pupal casing.

● A pupal flea may remain in that state for up to a year if the environmental conditions are not favorable.

Adult Fleas prefer to remain on their host and perform all their activities on the host. This is because they thrive well in a warm and humid environment, which the body of a warm-blooded creature such as humans and your pets at home. However, their larvae and eggs are usually dropped around a certain area in your home. When searching for the flea hotspots in your home, watch out for larvae and eggs. If you look for adult fleas, you might not find them because they prefer to remain on their host’s body.

There are varying opinions about how long a flea can live, i.e., an adult flea’s life expectancy. According to findings, it was established that the maximum amount of years is two years, and an adult flea can survive for that long from just a single meal. Ironically, if the fleas keep drinking blood continuously, they won’t survive beyond one month. However, the life expectancy of an adult flea is negligible compared to the other stages of flea development. The pupa stage is the most important, and that is the stage that determines if the next generation of fleas will hatch into adulthood or be exterminated.

Both the adult and larva flea require the body of a warm-blooded creature, but the larva can also live off the fecal deposits left by the female fleas.

If the flea’s host dies, the fleas will know due to the rapid drop in the temperature of the blood. They cannot live off anything other than warm-blood, so they will desert the body of the dead immediately. The adult flea especially cannot continue laying eggs without food, so its reproductive life will stall.

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Specific Male and Female flea differences

Male fleas

Ever wondered what does a male flea look like? Well, by physical appearance, there is not much difference between the male and female fleas. However, the male fleas are usually the first to emerge from their cocoon before the female ones do. However, the population of the male flea is usually far less than that of the female. 

Female fleas

As mentioned earlier in this article, the female fleas constitute the larger part of the adult flea population, even though thet come out last from the cocoon. Since a flea is already an adult from the point of emergence from the cocoon, the female flea can begin mating immediately it comes out from its cocoon. All she needs is to have her first meal. As long as it has drunk blood from a host, it will begin to lay eggs and deposit fecal waste that will serve as food for her offspring when they emerge out of their shells as a larva. This is what she will spend her entire life doing. With just a single mating session with a male flea, she will continue to lay eggs for a long time. However, research has indicated that the number of eggs she lays can be increased if she continues to mate.

Studies have not established the exact number of eggs that a flea can give birth to in her lifetime, but it has been determined that a healthy one can lay between 35- 40 eggs daily. The number will reduce when the environmental conditions are no more favorable.

How to get rid of fleas    

Getting rid of fleas is often a complicated process due to their size and fast reproduction rate when they find a favorable environment. The most effective way to kill them instantly is through the use of pesticides. You can speak with a pest control professional for the recommendation of practical pesticides. 

Below are some common home remedies that are effective in managing and keeping them at bay.

Soapy water: This method is effective in dealing with them gradually. All you have to do is mix some detergent in a bowl of warm water and position the bowl in the middle of the room where the infestation is high. You can do the same for several other rooms as well. Any flea that lands in the water will remain glued to it due to the viscosity of the soap. 

For this method to work well, do this at night before bed and repeat for many days. 

Herbal spray: You can make your flea spray by making lemon juice, vinegar, witch hazel, and water into a spray bottle. This solution is non-toxic to humans and pets but highly effective in dealing with those little monsters. 

Baking soda: Baking soda works well in dealing with fleas that have found residence in your items of clothing and carpets. Spread it around, scrubbing the surfaces of areas you applied them to. Finally, you can vacuum clean the area.

Salt: Salt is also an effective remedy against fleas. Just like baking soda, spread the salt over the affected fabrics and suspected areas. Leave the salt lying on the surface for 2-3 days and finally vacuum clean and empty the contents in a trash can. 

Lemon: Lemon juice is both effective in treating flea bites and killing the fleas as well. To do this, slice a lemon into a small bowl of water and boil the water. Pour the solution into a spray and allow it to sit through the night. By the next morning, you can start using the spray on infested areas. 

Diatomaceous earth: This is a non-toxic remain of fossilized algae, diatoms. It is effective against fleas, so powder over the areas where the fleas’ activity is suspected and allow to remain for about two days—vacuum clean after that. 

Rosemary: This is also another effective treatment against flea infestation. It consists of peppermint, fennel, rosemary herb, and some rue perfectly ground into powder. 

Flea repelling plants: A long term solution that can keep fleas away for a long time is the planting of flea repellent crops. Detailed below is a list of a few of these plants. Chrysanthemums, Spearmint, Penny Royal, and Lavender.

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What Good are Fleas?     

We have said a lot of awkward things about these little parasites, and you might be wondering if they are utterly useless or perhaps there is some good that they do for our ecosystem. Well, the only good thing about fleas is their role as vectors of several disease pathogens. 

This role is medically important as it helps keep the population of a species down and eliminate the weaker ones, thus only stronger genes get passed on to the next generation. This is very helpful for the evolution and survival of future species. Other than this, there is no other good thing about these insects.

Conclusively, fleas are terrible parasites that carry different types of pathogens, so you don’t want to share your home with them nor allow them to live on you. Their rate of reproduction is very fast, and premature fleas make up for over 80 percent of the entire flea population.

There are male and female fleas, and the male is less than the female in terms of population. Therefore, fleas are not Unisex.


Luis Gillman
Luis Gillman

Hi, I Am Luis Gillman CA (SA), ACMA
I am a Chartered Accountant (SA) and CIMA (SA) and author of Due Diligence: A strategic and Financial Approach.

The book was published by Lexis Nexis on 2001. In 2010, I wrote the second edition. Much of this website is derived from these two books.

In addition I have published an article entitled the Link Between Due Diligence and Valautions.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.