Flea, or Pulex, L. in zoology, a genus of insect, requiring no particular description.
Want of cleanliness remarkably contributes to the generation of fleas ; as the females deposit their eggs, each from twenty to thirty, in damp and filthy places, within the crevices of boards, on rubbish, etc. whence they emerge in the course of six or eight days, in the form of greasy whitish maggots. When a fortnight old, they envelope themselves in a small chrysalis, from which they sally forth, after ten days existence, in the form of fleas. In the winter, these different transformations require a period of six weeks, but in summer only a month. They probably do not live longer than one year; though it is said, that fleas have been kept on little golden chains for six years. As they are able to draw a weight eighty times greater than that of their own bodlies, some frivolous persons have occasionally kept them harnessed to miniature carriages, etc. Leaping
A also is a singular proof of their muscular strength ; as, by pressing the belly downwards, expanding their legs, and then suddenly con-tracting them, these creatures dart forward to a distance of 10 or 12 inches.
Children and females are remarkably liable to the attacks of this little enemy ; a circumstance which must be attributed to their more tender skin, their purer blood, longer clothes, and, in some individuals, perhaps to a peculiar state of perspiration. - Cleanliness, and frequent sprinkling of the room with a simple decoction of worm-wood, will soon exterminate the whole breed of these troublesome vermin; and the best remedy to expel them from bed-clothes, is a bag filled with dry moss, the odour of which is to them extremely offensive - Others cover the floors of the rooms where fleas abound, with the leaves of the al-der tree, while the dew is on the foliage, to which these insects fondly adhere, and thus may be easily destroyed. Mercurial ointment, sulphur, and fumigation with the leaves of penny-royal, or the fresh-gathered foliage of that plant, sewed up in a bag, and laid in the bed, are also remedies pointed out for the expulsion of fleas.