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A Flea’s Fantastic Jump Takes More Than Muscle | Deep Look Video

October 15, 2020

Before they can bite your cat or dog, these little “itch hikers” make an amazing leap 100 times faster than the blink of an eye. So how do they do it?

Spring is here, and with it, the start of flea season. With the warming weather, people and their pets are spending more time outside — which increases the chances of bringing home a hungry “itch hiker.”

While pet owners curse the tiny insects and look for a way to rid them from their homes, it turns out fleas actually perform some remarkable athletic feats, like jumping 50 times their height — the equivalent of a human jumping 300 feet — or leaping so fast that they take off 100 times faster than the blink of an eye.

No larger than a sesame seed and flattened side to side, fleas can slip through fur with ease. Their jump is so fast they seem to simply vanish and reappear somewhere else.

“It’s there and then it’s gone,” said Gregory Sutton, a professor of biomechanics at the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom.

This is another installment of the PBS Deep Look series. If no film or link appears in this email, go to the blog to view it by clicking on the blog title above. If the film stops & starts in an annoying manner, press pause (lower left double bars ||) to let it buffer and get ahead of you.   [Chuck Almdale]

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