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Flea and Tick Life Cycle


Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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Understanding the life cycle of fleas & ticks

DESPITE THEIR SMALL SIZE, fleas and ticks can be big trouble for your cat and home. Like most parasites, however, prevention is easier and less costly than handling a full infestation. But prevention depends on a basic understanding of the flea and tick life cycle.

FLEA LIFE CYCLE
There are four stages in the flea life cycle: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult. The entire life cycle takes just 15 days when temperature and humidity are ideal. However, pupae can remain dormant for up to one year in extremely cold weather.

Only adult fleas bite your cat to feed on his blood. But each adult female can lay 30-50 eggs per day and produce up to 1,000 eggs in her short lifetime (up to two years). This means that in just thirty days, 25 adult female fleas can produce up to a quarter of a million fleas!

TICK LIFE CYCLE
Ticks also have a four-stage life cycle: egg, larvae, nymph, and adult. However, ticks require a blood meal to progress to each successive life cycle stage after hatching from an egg. Therefore, each tick has three opportunities throughout its life to attach to your cat and simultaneously transmit disease. Plus, each female tick lays approximately 3,000 eggs - greatly increasing your cat's odds of tick exposure.

BREAKING THE PARASITE LIFE CYCLE
Thankfully, modern flea and tick control can safely and easily stop the parasitic life cycle. All contain various insecticides to kill either adults, larvae, eggs, or a combination of life cycle stages. Many also include an insect growth regulator (IGR) or development inhibitor (IDI) to prevent eggs from hatching into the larval stage.

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