Did you know fleas are good jumpers? I don't mean so-so jumpers or pretty good jumpers, I mean really good jumpers. A variety of flea species have been studied for their jumping abilities (biologists are curious people, are they not?). One study looked at the jumping distance of 450 cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis), and found that the average vertical jump is 5.2 inches (13 cm) and the average horizontal jump is 8 inches (20 cm). The very longest horizontal jump was 19 inches (48 cm).
This may not sound like much distance, but you need to consider that a cat flea is less than 3 mm long. Nineteen inches is essentially 160 time the flea's body length.
Okay, I'm about 5 foot 10 inches (177 cm) tall. If I could jump like the most athletic cat flea in that research study, I would hit the ground 933 feet from where I left the ground. That's longer than three football fields.
Not only can fleas jump far, they also jump incredibly fast. A flea completes its launch in less than one millisecond. This speed is much faster than would be possible with normal muscle movement. Instead of using their muscles to jump, they use their muscles to bend a part of their exoskeleton called the pleural arch. This acts as a spring, and when it releases, it throws the flea into the air with great force. Think of it like shooting a bow. Instead of using your muscles to throw the arrow, you use them to pull the bow string back.
- 3D rendering of a flea - DepositPhotos
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