The sticktight flea (Echidnophaga gallinacea
) is one of the two common types of fleas which infest poultry. Adult sticktight fleas are small (1.4-4 mm long), reddish-brown to black, wingless, blood-sucking insects. They embed their heads into the skin of their host and feed on their blood, where they may remain for up to 19 days.
The sticktight flea is found in tropical, subtropical, and temperate zones worldwide.
Although poultry are the primary host of sticktight fleas, they have become increasingly more common in domestic dogs and cats. On dogs and cats, they are typically found between the toe pads or around their ears. They are often mistaken for ticks. Besides dogs and cats, these fleas have also been reported on horses, pigs, ground squirrels, rabbits, rodents, and even humans.
Sticktight flea Life Cycle
The complete life cycle of the flea takes about 1 to 2 months, varying according to the temperature. The adult female fleas lay their eggs at night, while remaining attached to the bird. Her eggs will drop to the ground, underneath where the chickens are sleeping. In about four days, small wormlike larvae emerge from the eggs. They will feed on organic material and feces from the adult fleas and hide underneath bedding or the soil. They will molt several times before burrowing down into the soil and cocoon themselves where they will develop into adult fleas. This process takes about two weeks. Once the adult fleas emerge, they will seek one of your chickens to feed on.