Fleas and ticks are horrible, annoying pests. They’re hard to get rid of, hard to live with, and just downright weird. Think about: They suck your blood, so they’re basically vampires, and when you look at them under a microscope, they look like aliens or some kind of twisted mutants. Turns out, the more research you do, the stranger they get. From amazing super powers to disgusting lifestyle habits, here’s 8 fascinating flea and tick facts you might not know.
Ticks Use Glue to Stick to You
Ever wonder why ticks are so good at sticking to their hosts? The answer is glue, or something very much like it. When a tick climbs onto a host to feed, their mouth secretes a liquid-concrete-like material called cementum. This same material helps the tick create a barbed feeding tube, making them even harder to remove. A tick’s saliva also contains a numbing agent with anti-inflammatory properties, which allows the parasite to feed unnoticed.
Fleas and Ticks Use Your Pet Like a Toilet
Fleas and ticks create a lot of waste when they eat. And because they feed on your pet’s body, guess where all that feces goes? You guessed it: Your pet. All those tiny black dots you see in your dog’s coat right around the bite site, yeah…that’s poop. Fleas produce tons of feces for their size, so much so that it’s actually the flea larvae’s primary source of food. Tick poop, while equally gross, is far more dangerous, as it can contain bacteria that spread Lyme disease.
They Can Go Months Without Eating
One of the reasons fleas and ticks are so hard to control is because they’ve evolved to be extremely durable organisms. One feature of this durability is that both parasites can survive extended periods without food. Fleas are known to go up to 100 days between blood meals (flea pupae up to a year), whereas ticks are said to be capable of going several years without feeding.
These Parasites Carry Their Own Parasites
When fleas infest your pet’s fur, they’re bringing some nasty friends along with them. Did you know a single flea can carry upwards of 150 parasitic mites? These mites transmit everything from tapeworms and bacteria to diseases such as typhus and cat scratch fever.
Fleas Are Superhero-Quality Jumpers
We all know fleas are talented jumpers, but this is ridiculous. Not only can fleas jump over 110 times their body length (which is like a human jumping over a skyscraper), but they can jump over 30,000 times without stopping for a rest—which is just insane! Craziest of all, when a flea jumps, it accelerates 20 times faster than the launch of a space shuttle!
Fleas Can Lay up to 50 Eggs a Day
While 20 is more the average, it’s not uncommon for a flea to lay 50 eggs in a single day. Just think: If a female lays 50 eggs in one day, and half those eggs are females, you could be facing over 20,000 fleas in as little as 60 days. In other words, a flea infestation can get out of hand in no time.
Fleas Can Cause Anemia
In severe cases, a flea infestation can drain so much blood from a host that anemia can occur. This happens almost exclusively in young animals, and is quite uncommon. In rare cases, blood transfusions are necessary.
Tick Bites Can Turn You Into a Vegetarian
Well, sort of. In some cases, a bite from a lone star tick can trigger an allergy to red meat in both dogs and humans. Severe Itching, hives and a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction can occur in individuals suffering from this peculiar side effect. Worst of all, no one really knows how long this tick-caused allergic reaction may last.