Flea. Creature Research Fact File [Y1: Form &Visualisation P2]


Fleas are small, wingless, obligate, blood-feeding insects. Flea includes 2,500 species of small flightless insects that survive as external parasites of mammals and birds. Fleas live by consuming blood or hemaztophagy, from their hosts.

Adult fleas usually live in temporary association with their host. Mammals and birds which do not build nests, or return regularly to specific bedding, lairs or burrows generally do not have fleas.

(http://www.bristol.ac.uk/biology/research/ecological/vpe/fleas.html )

2 Key Senses for survival:

  • Jumping ability
  • Attracted to heat

Cat fleas locate hosts chiefly through visual and thermal stimuli.  A combination of multiple cues, including light, movement, air currents, and heat reinforces the likelihood of finding suitable host, and thus produces the best jump response.

(https://fleascience.com/flea-encyclopedia/life-cycle-of-fleas/adult-fleas/what-attracts-fleas/are-fleas-attracted-to-heat/ )

Range of movement: Jumping

Flea Jumping
  • Fleas can jump over 80 times their own height, the equivalent of a 6 foot tall. This equals to a human jumping over a building 480 feet.
  • Fleas can pull 160,000 times their own weight, the equivalent of a human pulling 24 million pounds.

Image Source: https://fleascience.com/flea-encyclopedia/life-cycle-of-fleas/adult-fleas/how-do-fleas-move/how-far-and-high-can-fleas-jump/


Image Source: http://jeb.biologists.org/content/214/5/836

Attracted by Warmth

Cat fleas are stimulated and attracted by warmth. This response helps them locate blood meals, as potential hosts emit body heat. Fleas have antennae which function as sensory organs. The antennae can detect heat and other host stimuli. When a heated object is placed near cat fleas, their activity dramatically increases. They’ll jump wildly in random directions.

(https://fleascience.com/flea-encyclopedia/life-cycle-of-fleas/adult-fleas/what-attracts-fleas/are-fleas-attracted-to-heat/ )  

Body structure:

  • No wings
  • Have strong claws preventing them from being dislodged
  • Mouth can easily pierce skin and suck blood from the host
  • Legs adapted for jumping high


Image Source: https://www.shanklinpetstores.co.uk/fleas-the-basics/

Image Source: http://jeb.biologists.org/content/214/5/836

Interesting Facts:

Sight: major role in host-finding

  • Light sensor, attracted to movement, red and blue big target

Adult cat fleas do have eyes. One is located on each side of the head. Instead of compound eyes, fleas poses simple eyes with a single biconvex lens. The eyes are black and round.

The eyes of fleas: sense for host-finding. Their eyes are sensitive to changes in light intensity, but can’t form visual images

Cat fleas can assess the size of targets with their vision. They aren’t attracted to small targets. In a natural setting, these would be unsuitable hosts, such as rodents.


  • Fleas do not have ears

(https://fleascience.com/flea-encyclopedia/life-cycle-of-fleas/adult-fleas/what-do-fleas-look-like/do-fleas-have-eyes/ )

Ability to live without food for several months

  • Flea pupae can also stay in their cocoons for up to a year, waiting to sense the body heat and vibrations that signal the presence of nearby hosts. So when you go on vacation, the fleas don’t starve to death — they simply wait for you and your pets to come back.

(https://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/flea.htm )


Relationship with Cat: Parasitism

  • Causing an itching sensation which in turn causes the host to try to remove the pest by biting, pecking or scratching.

2 Replies to “Flea. Creature Research Fact File [Y1: Form &Visualisation P2]”

  1. Hi Emma if possible, please summarize your flea and cat traits with Jess as an infographic layout so it’s easier to grasp for our guest crit invite tomorrow. Thanks for the thorough reasearch shown here.

  2. Emma & Jess,

    I really enjoyed your coughing furball catflea Kinetic Beast. I think it has a lot of potential for further exploration.

    To better meet the criteria of the Kinetic Beast assignment brief, here are some suggestions for your technical drawings of your Kinetic Beast:

    1) Show an exploded isometric / axonometric component assembly of one catflea kinetic module

    2) Show in elevation ( side view ) of its ideal height change demonstrating its leaping property.

    3) Show in plan ( top view ) of how this one kinetic module may be arranged when multiplied. In a straight row or in a circular array? How can they be interconnected?

    4) Show in perspective, how the interconnected “leaping then falling “ kinetic modules become your Catflea ( Name ? ) Kinetic Beast.

    Hope this helps.

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