Human flea

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Human flea
male (left) female (right)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Siphonaptera
Family: Pulicidae
Subfamily: Pulicinae
Genus: Pulex
Species: P. irritans
Binomial name
Pulex irritans
Linnaeus, 1758

The human flea, Pulex irritans, is a cosmopolitan flea species that has, in spite of the common name, a wide host spectrum. It is one of six species in the genus Pulex; the other five are all confined to the Nearctic and Neotropical regions.[1] The species is thought to have originated in South America, where its original host may have been the guinea pig or peccary.[2]

This species bites many species of mammals and birds, including domesticated ones. It has been found on dogs and wild canids, monkeys in captivity, opossums, domestic cats, wild felids in captivity, chickens, black rats and Norwegian rats, wild rodents, pigs, free-tailed bats, and other species. It can also be an intermediate host for the cestode Dipylidium caninum.

Flea bites are typically red and inflamed. Overall symptoms include itchiness and rashes. Fleas can spread rapidly and move between areas to include eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic regions.

Common treatments include body shaving and medicated shampoos and combing.


  1. ^ Michael F. Whiting, Alison S. Whiting, Michael W. Hastriter & Katharina Dittmar (2008). "A molecular phylogeny of fleas (Insecta: Siphonaptera): origins and host associations" (PDF). Cladistics 24 (5): 1–31. doi:10.1111/j.1096-0031.2008.00211.x. 
  2. ^ Paul C. Buckland & Jon P. Sadler (1989). "A biogeography of the human flea, Pulex irritans L. (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae)". Journal of Biogeography 16 (2): 115–120. doi:10.2307/2845085. JSTOR 2845085.