Organisms belonging to the phylum Arthropoda are characterized by the absence of a spine and a soft and segmented body protected by an exoskeleton. Arthropod organisms include all species of insects, arachnids, millipedes, centipedes, and crustaceans, which accounts for around 80 percent of all documented species currently existing worldwide. Many arthropod species are herbivores including most of the beetle species found amongst vegetation, as well as the male specimens of mosquito and biting fly species. While mosquitoes and biting flies like greenhead flies are well known for feeding on human and animal blood, it should be known that only the females are occasional bloodsuckers. Male mosquito and biting fly species use their syringe-like sucking mouthpart to pierce plant tissues in order to consume sweet-tasting internal juices, which makes them herbivores. While female mosquito and biting fly species feed on plant juices, they must also collect blood meals in order to obtain the nutrients they need to produce viable eggs, which makes them carnivorous as well. Along with mosquitoes and a variety of biting fly species, ticks, bed bugs, and fleas are the most common bloodsucking arthropod pests that parasitize humans.
The saliva of parasitic arthropod pests contains anticoagulant and anesthetic proteins that serve to enhance blood flow and numb the skin to prevent their human hosts from feeling the sensation of bites. While parasitic arthropod pests are not venomous, they are of great medical importance, as bites cause their salivary proteins to enter the bloodstream where they may induce allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, including potentially fatal anaphylactic episodes. Numerous medical case reports describe instances of individuals who experienced serious allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock from bites inflicted by bed bugs, mites, ticks, and fleas. Most people develop a progressively greater immune sensitivity with each bed bug bite they sustain, but luckily, bed bugs do not spread disease. Ticks transmit disease to humans far more frequently than any other arthropod pest in the country, and they are particularly prevalent in the northeast. Mite species parasitize humans, others induce allergic skin rashes on contact, and some are indoor pests of stored food products. Fleas are abundant on residential lawns, but they often wind up indoors after hopping onto passing dogs, cats and humans.
Have you ever found fleas infesting your pet?