What Does A Flea Look Like?

A flea infestation is often diagnosed be seeing fleas with the naked eye. So what do fleas look like anyway? Fleas are about 1/8 inch in length, and appear yellow, brown, or brown-red.  When fleas have recently fed, their stomachs can appear pale brown.  Fleas are wingless.  Their main method of transportation is jumping from host to host.  The flea’s powerful six legs accomplish this feat.  The back two legs are especially long, allowing the flea to propel itself with great force.  These legs also allow a flea to propel itself quickly through the fur of its host, thus avoiding scratching and biting.  Fleas can be seen with the naked eye when they are scurrying through the fur of an animal.

Fleas are hairy.  This hair interacts with the fur of its host, helping fleas to stay on the animal.  The body of a flea has an irregular shape.  While ticks appear to be flat from above, a flea appears to be flat from the side.  It’s as if the body has been squashed by objects on both sides.  Many species have combs.  Combs are areas of spiny hair, located either behind the head, or directly above the mouthparts.  The latter appears as a mustache.  Fleas have a head, thorax, and body region.  The body is much more round and large compared to the thorax and head.

Flea eggs are small and white.  Eggs are typically found in a pet’s bedding, and not on the actual animal host.  The larvae appear and move as very small white caterpillars.  These larvae feed on the droppings of adult fleas, which contain digested blood from previous meals.