Bird flea bites are a sign of spring. If you are bitten by fleas in April-May, the perpetrators are probably bird fleas that you get into contact with in the vicinity of bird nests. The most common bird flea species is called Ceratophyllus gallinae, or the European chicken flea. It thrives in dry, high-lying nests and can also form large populations in hen houses. Bird flea larva can only develop in birds’ nests, where they feed on various organic materials. The adult fleas suck blood of birds. Bird fleas overwinter in the nests. During the autumn, flea larvae develop into adult fleas, but they do not emerge from the cocoon before the spring. The hatching process is sped up by vibrations made when the birds return to the nests or if someone touches the nest. If there is no activity in the nest, the fleas will emerge anyway, just a little later, and you can see them sitting like little black dots around the edge of the nest. Bird fleas face towards the light. A bird or a human who casts its shade on the fleas, they might jump. If the flea is lucky, it will land on a bird, but of course, many miss the birds and end up on the ground. Here they wait, ready to jump onto passing animals or humans. To find out where individual bird fleas come from, can be quite difficult. The explanation for the bites may be that one of the family members once a day passes by an abandoned blackbird’s nest or a nesting box for titmice, for example, in the garage or in a bush used as a hiding place by children. Dogs and cats can get infested by bird fleas and drag them into the house.
Bird fleas can also invade the home directly from birds’ nests in the roof or in a chimney, or they can sit on laundry, which has hung to dry in the garden near a bird’s nest. Furthermore, a typical situation in which to get infested by the fleas in the spring is while gardening.
Nest boxes can contain hundreds of fleas. You get easily infested with the fleas while handling the boxes, especially if you take the boxes inside during the winter or in spring to clean and repair them. The kind of domestic crafts should always be done outdoors and during the winter.