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cat flea
cat flea

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Ctenocephalides felis, cat flea

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Ctenocephalides felis, cat flea

Taxonomc lineage

cellular organisms - Eukaryota - Fungi/Metazoa group - Metazoa - Eumetazoa - Bilateria - Coelomata - Protostomia - Panarthropoda - Arthropoda - Mandibulata - Pancrustacea - Hexapoda - Insecta - Dicondylia - Pterygota - Neoptera - Endopterygota - Siphonaptera - Pulicomorpha - Pulicoidea - Pulicidae - Archaeopsyllinae - Ctenocephalides - Ctenocephalides felis

Brief facts

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Detection

Monitoring infestations is an extremely important component of flea control. Visual assessment for indoor infestations has typically involved a "white-sock technique", in which a person wearing knee-high white socks walks in the room to be surveyed for 5 min and adult fleas that jump onto the socks are counted.

More advanced method is collecting fleas by a hand-held vacuum cleaner with a handkerchief inserted in the dust bag, which recovers 96% of adult fleas released in a room, compared with 77% recovered with the white-sock technique.

Commercially available traps with continuous light sources attract about 10% of adult fleas. A light trap with intermittent pulses of light attracts 57-86% of fleas.

In outdoor areas, a roller flea trap with a sticky adhesive surface catches 77% of the fleas released on a 0.8 m2 grassy area.

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Natural predators

Ants are known to be predators of all stages of fleas except the cocoon. There are reports of fleas preyed upon by some predatory species of Histerids (Clown beetles), Staphylinids (rove beetles), and Tenebrionid (darkening beetles). The parasitic nematode Steinernema carpocapsae will attack and kill larvae, pre-pupae, and pupae. However, fleas do not support complete nematode development, and moist substrates would be necessary for the nematode to survive to infect more than one generation of fleas. Currently, a product containing nematodes is registered for outdoor applications to turf and has been shown to be effective in reducing flea populations in soil.

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Associated diseases

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Developmental stage

Life cycle of a flea from egg to egg-laying adult can be completed take as little as 18 days under optimal conditions (room temperature and humidity ~70%). Acquiring newly emerged fleas from an infested environment is more likely than from direct transfer of fleas from one host to another. Actual reproduction levels of fleas on a host will vary depending upon the level of grooming activity.

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Methods of control

Historically, cat fleas were controlled by chemical treatments of indoor and outdoor surfaces, which targeted not only pets' ectoparasites but also a broad range of other pests and could have been harmful for environment. The use of host-targeted therapies did not become popular until the registration of luferunon in 1995. Since then, a new paradigm of treating the pet rather than the environment flooded the market with various oral and topical treatments.

Chemical compound that interfere with the growth and development of arthropods are referred as insect growth regulators (IGRs). They can be subdivided further into juvenile-hormone analogs (JHAs) that prevent egg and larval stages from developing into adults and insect-developmental inhibitors (IDIs). IDIs interfere with many aspects of insect reproductive abilities and development and, currently, are used widely for tick, fly and flea control.

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Product Chemistry Method of application Stages affected Efficiency Mechanism
Selamectin Avermectins and derivatives (a group of macrocyclic lactones produced by soil bacterium Streptomyces avermitilis and derivatives) topical all stages, especially larvae, and even eggs >90%, residual protection for over 20 days opening of chloride channels in muscle membranes of arthropods
Fipronil (Front-Line) phenylpyrazole insecticide spot-on topical adult and off-host stages >90%, residual protection for ~90 days blocking (GABA)-gated chloride channels in central nervous system
Imidacloprid (Advantage) chloronicotinyl insecticide topical adult and off-host stages >90%, residual protection for ~20-40 days competitive inhibiting at nicotinic acetylcholine receptors of the nervous system
Nitenpyram chloronicotinyl insecticide (similar to imidacloprid) orally adults within 8 hours, 100% of fleas are killed, remain active in the blood for 48 hours competitive inhibiting at nicotinic acetylcholine receptors of the nervous system
Pyrethroids similar to pyrethrins, natural compounds produced by the flowers of Chrysanthemum spp. topical adults >90% in number of cat fleas for 28 days opening sodium channels in the nervous system
Pyriproxyfen IDI topical larval and eggs significant reduction in flea numbers and almost 100% elimination over the period of six months juvenile-hormone analog (JHA)
Lufenuron (Program) IDI orally or injections larval and eggs a 90% decrease in number of adult fleas emerging from eggs for ~200 days after treatment insect-growth regulator (IGR), inhibits chitin synthesis
Methoprene IDI flea collar larval and eggs effective for 4 to 6 months on a dog and up to a year on cats juvenile-hormone analog (JHA)

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Ctenocephalides felis female

Dantas-Torres F. Canine vector-borne diseases in Brazil. Parasit Vectors. 2008 Aug 8;1(1):25.

Cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis, female

(a) Flea's head, exhibiting the characteristic genal (arrow) and pronotal (arrowhead) combs. (b) Spermatheca (arrow). (c) Chaetotaxy of tibia (arrow) of leg III.

Taxonomic keys of cat flea (University of São Paulo, Marcelo de Campos Pereira, PhD)

References

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