Have you noticed your pets scratching more than usual? Perhaps you have seen small, itchy, red bites or welts on your lower legs. You may even have seen a tiny bug that seems to hop from place to place. If you have noticed any of those things, your home may have fleas. However, there are a few different types of fleas you may encounter.

While all fleas are parasitic bloodsuckers, New Zealand has a few different types of fleas. Of those, you are most likely to encounter four in your home. Those include the

  • Dog Flea
  • Cat Flea
  • Rat Flea
  • Human Flea

Ctenocephalides Canis (Dog Flea)

As its name suggests, the dog flea primarily feeds on dogs. It is the most common species that you find on dogs. They have off-white larvae, and they lay small white eggs. Adults are about 3mm long, flat, and brown to black. Like all fleas, they have six legs.

You may see dog fleas in your pet’s fur, especially if you comb backward while looking for fleas. You may also notice them on less furry areas of your dog’s body, such as their belly. However, you are more likely to see them by watching your dogs. They could have fleas if your dog seems scratching, uncomfortable, or in pain.

Ctenocephalides Felis (Cat Flea)

It should come as no surprise that the cat flea mainly inhabits cats. However, these parasites are not picky. You can also find them on dogs. They look like the dog flea, but they can be smaller. They range from 1mm to 3mm in length. One of their most significant differences from dog fleas is that they have dark, protruding bristles known as combs on both the anterior and posterior of their bodies. Dog fleas only have combs on their anterior.

Xenopsylla Cheopis (Rat Flea)

One of the most common types of fleas in New Zealand, rat fleas are double bad news. First, they can spread disease. Second, if you have rat fleas, then you probably have rats. They most commonly feed on the Norway rat.

Rat fleas look different than dog or cat fleas. Instead of being brown or black in color, they are reddish brown. They do not have anterior combs. In addition, they can jump much higher than other types of fleas. If you see a flea that can jump up to 30cm, that is a good sign that it is a rat flea.

Pulex Irritans (Human Flea)

Did you know that there is a flea that targets humans? The human flea likes to feast on us. However, it is not a picky parasite. It will also dine on other furry animals. They are less common than different types of fleas. However, they can be more of a nuisance. While most fleas can bite a human and feed on us, we are not preferred hosts because we lack body hair. The human flea can survive on humans, making them a threat. Human fleas are reddish brown, have prominent eye spots, and do not have anterior combs. They also have yellow larvae, not white.