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northern rat flea can be a huge concern in areas where rodents commonly live. They like to hide out at camp sites and along hiking trails, among other places. When there aren’t enough mice, rats, or other rodents around, rat fleas will seek food from humans and their pets. The bugs begin life as small white eggs nestled around rat or mice nests. Unlike the oriental rat flea, which survives on blood, the northern rat flea typically chows down on flea droppings and animal hair when the insects are in the larval stage. Only when the pupa emerges from its cocoon does the rat flea begin drinking animal and human blood.

Chigoe or Sand Flea

Unlike some fleas, sand fleas don’t have the ability to kill you, but they can make you itch like nobody’s business. Originally from South

Scientific Name: Tunga penetrans Range: Tropical environments Life Span: Less than a year Danger: Painful, itchy bites

and Central America, sand fleas migrated to Africa in the 19th century, and later moved on to India and Pakistan. They prefer living in warm climates, and

often infest beaches, stables, and pigsties. You can also find them in the desert. As a rule, fleas are accomplished jumpers, but not the sand flea. When they attack humans, these nasty biting parasites will chomp down on a person’s feet, creating itchy lesions—a condition called tungiasis . The flea buries itself under the skin near the surface of a person’s feet, making itself at home between the toes. New World Disease Historians believe the explorer Christopher Columbus was victimized by sand fleas. Apparently, the fleas bit him in 1492 when he and his crew landed in Hispaniola, opening up the Western Hemisphere to European colonization.

The Ultimate Book of Dangerous Insects


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