Forum: Hematophagous Strategies of the Cat Flea (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae)

Nancy C. Hinkle, Philip G. Koehler, William H. Kern Jr., Richard S. Patterson

Abstract


Hematophagy of the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis felis (Bouche), was investigated. Blood feeding in the adult stages nearly doubled the weight of mixed-sex fleas. However, within 12 h, the gained weight was lost. Protein mass tripled after feeding, but starvation caused a reduction in protein with the percentage protein remaining constant (5%). Both in vivo and in vitro rearing of cat fleas was successful in allowing flea survival, feeding, fecal production, and reproduction. In vivo rearing, infesting cats with 50 fleas per week, resulted in a mean of 332 fleas per cat. Because 68% were female, male survival times on the host were shorter than those of females. Female fleas produced 1 egg per h, and combined sexes averaged 0.77 mg of feces per day. Average blood ingestion for defecation was 6.97 @ml of blood. In vitro rearing resulted in lower egg production (12%), feces production (50%), and ingestion of blood for defecation. Two types of flea feces were found--spherules and coils. Within 24 h of first feeding, almost all feces were spherules <0.07 mm in diameter. After 10 days of feeding, 60-70% of the feces were coils. These adult feces are the natural larval diet of cat flea larvae.

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