AMI IMAGES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY AMI IMAGES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Flea, coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM). Fleas (order Siphonaptera) are wingless insects and are external parasites, with mouthparts (centre) adapted for piercing its host's skin and sucking blood. In the process of feeding on its host's blood, they can transmit (act as a vector for) various diseases. Fleas are flattened from side to side (as seen here), which makes them difficult to dislodge in hair. The head (upper centre) is helmet-shaped to assist the flea when moving through the fur of its host. Comb-like spines (ctenidia, behind the head) anchor the flea in its host's fur. They have enlarged hind legs for jumping. One of the eyes (red) is also seen.
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