There are over 2,000 described species of fleas. The most common domestic flea is the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis. The adult cat flea, unlike many other fleas, remains on the host. Adults require a fresh blood meal in order to reproduce.
Cat flea eggs are laid at the rate of up to one egg per hour. They are oval, smooth, and about 0.5 mm in size. Due to their dry, smooth surface, the eggs easily fall out of the animal’s hair. Though otherwise visible, the white eggs are nearly impossible to see against surfaces such as carpet, bedding, and lawn. It is here where the eggs will remain until the larvae emerge.
In order to effectively control an infestation, fleas must be removed from the pet, the home, and the yard. Removal of fleas from the animal alone is futile. Immature fleas which have developed into adults off the animal simply jump on, causing subsequent reinfestation. Flea combs may be used to treat the pet, yet they only remove ten to sixty percent of the fleas. By shampooing the animal, the dried blood and skin flakes which provide food for the larvae are removed.
Courtesy Dina L. Richman, University of Florida