THIERRY BERROD, MONA LISA PRODUCTION / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY THIERRY BERROD, MONA LISA PRODUCTION / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Cat flea. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the head of a cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis). The head is helmet-shaped to assist the flea when moving through the fur of its cat host. The body is also laterally flattened for this purpose. Comb-like spines, called ctenidia, anchor the flea in its host's fur. One of the small rounded eyes (red) is visible, but the antennae are secreted into grooves behind the eyes. The antenna-like extensions at the front of the head are sensory palps and below these are the mandibles, which are modified to pierce the skin and suck blood. Most fleas only remain on their host while feeding. The cat flea measures about 2-3.5mm long.
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