Cat Flea - Ctenocephalides felis
The body of
Ctenocephalides felis is flattened laterally for ease of movement
between the hairs of the host. Note small size of head in relation to
long powerful hind legs allowing jumps of up to 30cm horizontally and
20cm vertically. Extended jumps are possible due to a protein, resilin,
stored in the pleural exoskeleton for release through the hind legs. After
leaping the flea tumbles forward with its legs extended like grappling
Cat Flea head
showing small round ocellus (simple eye). The mouthparts of the flea are
modified for piercing and sucking - the maxillary palps are seen on the
left. One antenna is lying in a deep lateral groove to the right of the
eye. A group of backwardly-directed spines above the maxillary palps is
called the genal ctenidium.
of the genal ctenidium. The name for this structure is derived from the
Greek word for comb (ctenidi) and it deters flea removal by the host.
After leaping at its host the flea tumbles forward with its legs extended. The pretarsus terminates in two strong claws for grasping host hair and are used like grappling hooks.
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