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A Flea's Fantastic Jump Takes More Than Muscle | Deep Look

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Channel: Deep Look
Categories: Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science  
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Before they can bite your cat or dog, these little "itch hikers" make an amazing leap 100 times faster than the blink of an eye. So how do they do it?

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DEEP LOOK is a ultra-HD (4K) short video series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios. See the unseen at the very edge of our visible world. Explore big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small.

Spring is here, and with it, the start of flea season. With the warming weather, people and their pets are spending more time outside which increases the chances of bringing home a hungry itch hiker.
While pet owners curse the tiny insects and look for a way to rid them from their homes, it turns out fleas actually perform some remarkable athletic feats, like jumping 50 times their height the equivalent of a human jumping 300 feet or leaping so fast that they take off 100 times faster than the blink of an eye.
No larger than a sesame seed and flattened side to side, fleas can slip through fur with ease. Their jump is so fast they seem to simply vanish and reappear somewhere else.
It's there and then it's gone, said Gregory Sutton, a professor of biomechanics at the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom.

--- What do flea eggs look like?
After feeding on blood, adult fleas mate and lay eggs. The eggs drop out of their host animals fur or feathers and into their bedding or nest. The eggs are translucent white and very small. At 0.5mm the eggs are about the size of a grain of salt.

--- Why do fleas bite me?
Blood is a protein-rich food for fleas. Adult fleas feed on blood before they can procreate.

--- Why does my dog/cat keep getting fleas?
Fleas are nest parasites. Their eggs fall from the host animal into its bedding where they hatch. The worm-like larvae feed on organic debris (including the adult fleas feces) in the bedding. They then curl up into a cocoon and undergo metamorphosis into their adult form. Flea baths tend to kill the fleas currently on the pet, but there may still be flea eggs and larvae in the pets bedding. When those young fleas mature they may reinfest the pet.

---+ Read the entire article on KQED Science:

---+ For more information:

Why do Large Animals Never Actuate Their Jumps with Latch-Mediated Springs? Because They can Jump Higher Without Them.
(Gregory P Sutton, Elizabeth Mendoza, Emanuel Azizi, Sarah J Longo, Jeffrey P Olberding, Mark Ilton, Sheila N Patek)

---+ Shoutout!

Congratulations to the following fans on our YouTube community tab who identified the colorful crustacean that stores energy and releases a powerful punch using the same mechanism that fleas use to jumpstart their jump: the mantis shrimp!

The Chicken Wizard
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Shin M.
Soren Rohrbach
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