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Fleas: Siphonaptera

Sheep And Goat Flea (dorcadia Ioffi): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: The body of a sheep and goat flea has light and dark brown markings.

Adult males grow to 0.13 inches (3.3 millimeters) in length, while females are 0.18 inches (4.5 millimeters). Females swollen with eggs may reach 0.6 inches (16 millimeters). The head and thorax lack combs. The mouthparts are very long.

Geographic range: They are found in parts of China, Mongolia, and Russia.

Habitat: They prefer pastures and agricultural fields where domestic sheep, cattle, goats, and similar wild animals live.

Diet: Adults suck blood from their hosts.

Behavior and reproduction: Males attach themselves to skin on the sides of the neck. The legs of females filled with blood are almost Female sheep and goat fleas that are filled with eggs often attach themselves to their hosts just inside the nostrils. (Illustration by Bruce Worden. Reproduced by permission.) useless, so they wriggle through their host's fur like a worm to get around. Females filled with eggs often attach themselves to their hosts just inside the nostrils.

During the winter a single host animal may have as many as one hundred to two hundred fleas, mostly females. The dark oval eggs are dropped into the environment in spring and begin to hatch as temperatures become warmer. The larvae become pupae in late summer, and the adults emerge in early winter. The entire life cycle takes about nine months.

Sheep and goat fleas and people: This species does not bite humans but will attack their animals.

Conservation status: This species is not considered endangered or threatened. ∎



Berenbaum. M. R. Bugs in the System: Insects and Their Impact on Human Affairs. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1995.

Tavolacci, J., ed. Insects and Spiders of the World. Volume 4: Endangered Species-Gypsy Moth. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2003.


Conniff, R. "Body Beasts." National Geographic 194, no. 6 (December 1998): 102–115.

Rothschild, M. "Fleas." Scientific American 213 (1965): 44–53.

Web sites:

Flea News. http://www.ent.iastate.edu/FleaNews/AboutFleaNews.html (accessed on October 22, 2004).

Fleas of the World. http://www.fleasoftheworld.byu.edu (accessed on October 22, 2004).

Fleas (Siphonaptera): Introduction. http://www.zin.ru/Animalia/Siphonaptera/intro.htm (accessed on October 22, 2004).

"Siphonaptera. Fleas." Ecowatch. http://www.ento.csiro.au/Ecowatch/Insects_Invertebrates/siphonaptera.htm (accessed on October 2, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceInsects and SpidersFleas: Siphonaptera - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Fleas And People, Chigoe (tunga Penetrans): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, CONSERVATION STATUS