Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera

Fleas (Siphonaptera)

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_3835

The fleas are a well known order of blood feeding insects, attacking mammals and birds. They bear some similarities to Mecoptera and Diptera, but their relationship to other insects is uncertain. The order name is based on the Greek words siphon (tube), a (without), and pteron (wing).


There are several classification systems available, with anywhere from five to ten superfamilies containing about 16 families. Following is a list of families containing about 2,300 species:
  • Class: Insecta
    • Order: Siphonaptera
      • Family: Pulicidae – common fleas

      • Family: Tungidae

      • Family: Rhopalopsyllidae – club fleas

      • Family: Malacopsyllidae

      • Family: Vermipsyllidae – carnivore fleas

      • Family: Hystrichopsyllidae – rodent fleas

      • Family: Coptopsyllidae

      • Family: Pygiopsyllidae

      • Family: Stephanocircidae

      • Family: Macropsyllidae

      • Family: Xyphiopsyllidae

      • Family: Ancistropsyllidae

      • Family: Chimaeropsyllidae

      • Family: Ischnopsyllidae – bat fleas

      • Family: Leptopsyllidae – scaled fleas

      • Family: Ceratopsyllidae – bird and...

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  1. Hopkins GHE, Rothschild M (1953–1971) An illustrated catalog of the Rothschild collection of fleas (Siphonaptera) in the British Museum (Natural History), vols 1–5. British Museum, LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Lewis RE (1972–1993) Notes on the geographical distribution and host preferences in the order Siphonaptera. J Med Entomol 9–30Google Scholar
  3. Richman DL, Koehler PG (1997) Fleas: what they are, what to do. Florida Cooperative Extension Service publication ENY-291Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008