Fleas – Long Jump Champions and Their Miracles

Fleas – Long Jump Champions and Their Miracles

At the forefront of this list stands the flea – a creature dubbed the ‘unrivaled high jump champion of the animal kingdom.’ It may sound unbelievable, but fleas possess the astonishing ability to leap up to 200 times their body length and cover distances up to 150 times their body height. This marvel is truly awe-inspiring; I’m sure you find it just as astonishing.

Fleas, also known as “chiggers,” are members of the Siphonaptera order – a group of small, wingless insects, sometimes referred to as Aphaniptera or Suctoria. This body shape falls under the class of winged insects. Fleas are not just parasites that live on the skin of mammals and birds to feed on blood; they are also ‘champions’ of leaping ability.

Despite their small, wingless bodies, fleas from the Siphonaptera order exhibit extraordinary movement capabilities – they can jump and maneuver adeptly. Their primary source of sustenance is the blood of animals. Significant species include the rat flea, human flea, and cat flea, all of which cause irritating bites, resulting in discomfort, itchiness, and even blood loss. The rat flea is a carrier of the bubonic plague and murine typhus, while the cat flea transmits tapeworms – a type of parasitic worm.

Even with their diminutive size, measuring only about 1.5 to 1.6 millimeters in length, fleas possess exceptional strength. They can jump up to 18 centimeters high and cover distances up to 33 centimeters – a measurement that’s 200 times their own length, making them champions of both high and far jumps in the animal kingdom. Notably, fleas can also propel objects heavier than themselves, up to 30 times their weight. With over a thousand different species, fleas are present on every continent, including Antarctica.

Their presence doesn’t just end there; fleas are vectors of disease, transmitted through their jumping from one host to another, a behavior that has altered the course of humanity. For instance, in history, the outbreak of the bubonic plague in 1374 caused by rat fleas claimed the lives of a quarter of Europe’s population.”

Nghia Pham