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A Comparison of Fecal Protein Content in Male and Female Cat Fleas, Ctenocephalides felis (Bouché) (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae)

Florida Entomologist
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  • Biology
  • Medicine


Scientific Notes 335 A COMPARISON OF FECAL PROTEIN CONTENT IN MALE AND FEMALE CAT FLEAS, CTENOCEPHALIDES FELIS (BOUCHE´) (SIPHONAPTERA: PULICIDAE) J EFFREY A. S HRYOCK AND R ICHARD M. H OUSEMAN Department of Entomology, University of Missouri—Columbia, 1-87 Agriculture Building, Columbia, MO 65211 The diet of the larval cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis (Bouche´), has been the focus of study by a number of researchers (Bruce 1948; Hsu et al. 2002; Moser et al. 1991; Richman et al. 1999). The consensus is that adult flea feces are the essential nutritional requirement for developing cat flea larvae. Various other organic materials found within the micro-habitat of larvae, previously thought to be of importance, have proven to have no significance in the diet (Strenger 1973). There is an incomplete utilization of host blood imbibed by adult cat fleas (Hinkle et al. 1991; Sil- verman & Appel 1994). Hinkle et al. (1991) re- ported that the protein content of cat flea feces was actually higher than the bovine blood upon which they fed, while Silverman & Appel (1994) found only a slight difference. The fact that adult flea feces are nutritionally necessary for larval de- velopment has led to the suggestion that there may be a unique form of parental investment ex- hibited in cat fleas (Hinkle et al. 1991; Silverman & Appel 1994). The objectives of this study were to compare protein content in the feces of adult male and fe- male C. felis over a 10-day feeding period and to examine the extent to which male fleas may pro- vide protein for developing flea larvae. Adult male and female cat fleas were reared from eggs at the Missouri Research Center Labora- tory in Fulton, Missouri. Fleas were held in an in- cubator at 28°C and 85% RH and exposed to a 12:12 light/dark regime until used for study purposes. At 25 days following the egg collection date, flea

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