Scientists have long wondered how fleas make such rapid jumps. Learning how fleas jump is much more difficult than you probably think. Fleas are simply too fast for their movements to be observed. In the past, many researchers have tried to figure out how fleas jump by closely observing video footage, but this method has its limitations. More recently researchers have settled upon examining the physical features in dead fleas in order to determine how they move. Using a variety of different techniques two researchers have become convinced that fleas use their toes to jump.
In the past researchers paired flea dissections with available video evidence to determine a few things about flea locomotion. It turns out that fleas fuel their leaps with energy that is stored in a spring within the bodies of fleas. However, researchers at the time still did not know how fleas use their anatomy to take off from the ground. Researchers have speculated that fleas use their “knees” to leap of off the ground, while other researchers believed that fleas use their “toes.”
Recently, in an effort to understand more about how fleas jump, two researchers, Gregory Sutton and Michael Burrows from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, built models of how fleas would look if they jumped with their toes and other models showing how they would look if they jumped with their knees. The researchers are trained in mechanical engineering, so they know how to build machines that could behave in ways similar to fleas. The researchers then compared their models to video footage of fleas. According to the two researchers, the way the fleas jumped was consistent with the “toe-theory.” In twelve percent of the ticks’ jumps, their knees never made contact with the ground. So now you know that fleas jump with their toes and not with their knees.
Have you ever had fleas infesting your home? If you have, then how did you get rid of them?