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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Richman, Dina
item Koehler, Philip
item Brenner, Richard

Submitted to: Journal of Medical Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Cat fleas are not only a nuisance that plagues pets and pet owners, they also are causative agents of disease and are responsible for tapeworm tapeworm transmission to pets and allergic dermatitis. Cat flea research requires a consistent and efficient laboratory larval rearing system. We have identified commercial sources for novel flea larval diets. Prior to this work, researchers used the dried blood of slaughtere animals as a laboratory larval diet. Commercial availability of larval diets allows investigators to conduct research on fleas without the necessity of killing animals for their blood. This efficient mass production ensures continual insecticidal research with the goal of reducing human exposure to insecticides. Sodium citrate is commonly added to fresh blood to prevent coagulation and decay of the blood during collection, storage, and drying. Storage of this blood at room temperature before oven-drying does not affect its nutritional adequacy as measured by larval mortality and development time. The oven-dried whole blood then requires supplementation with brewer's yeast in order to support complete cat flea development. However, spray dried bovine blood is also a satisfactory diet for laboratory-reared cat fleas. Because it is commercially available, use of this diet eliminates the need to collect, process, and supplement slaughterhouse blood, and thus, makes rearing fleas for research purposes more efficient.

Technical Abstract: Cat flea survival and development was assessed for fleas reared on slaughterhouse collected blood that was stored at room temperature for 0, 8, 20, 50, and 180 hours before being oven dried. Blood storage time did not affect percentage pupation (39%), percentage adult emergence (29.8%), or development time (24.8 days). The addition of brewer's yeast to the stored diets increased pupation to 84.1% and adult emergence to 76.7% and decreased time until adult emergence to 21.1 days. Commercial protein sources were also evaluated as replacement diets for dried blood. Percentage adult emergence of fleas reared on adult flea feces (87.7%) and spray dried bovine blood (79%) did not significantly differ, and yeast supplementation did not significantly increase adult emergence for spray dried diets. However, yeast supplementation of slaughterhouse collected blood increased percentage adult emergence from 0% to 41.7%. Spray dried bovine blood was found to be a satisfactory laboratory diet for cat flea larvae.

Last Modified: 05/28/2017
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