Fleas are small, wingless, external parasites from the order Siphonaptera. Adult fleas range from 2 to 4 mm in length, are brown in colour and oval in shape.
They have six, spiny legs, with powerful hind legs for jumping. Fleas are able to jump more than 200 times their body length.
Fleas have small antennae and mouth parts for piercing and sucking. They feed on the blood of humans and animals. Some flea species feed from one host species only, while others can survive on a number of hosts.
Fleas may be a growing problem due to the increasing number of household pets.
Fleas can spread the typhus disease. Typhus is caused when flea bites become infected as a result of flea-faecal contamination. However, this is uncommon.
Effective flea control often relies on the well-directed application of pesticides. This should be undertaken at the same time as non-chemical treatment – such as vacuuming and garden maintenance – to ensure the environment is less suitable for the development of fleas.