The effect of larval density on pre-imaginal development in two species of desert fleas. Academic Article uri icon


  • We studied the effect of density of larvae on pre-imaginal development in 2 flea species (Xenopsylla conformis and Xenopsylla ramesis) parasitic on 2 desert rodent species (Dipodillus dasyurus, adult body mass 20 g and Meriones crassus, 80 g). We predicted a decrease in duration of development with an increase in density of larvae. In general, in both flea species, duration of larva-to-pupa development decreased with an increasing larval density. In addition, this stage of development was longer in male fleas and in fleas from parents fed on D. dasyurus. The effect of larval density on larval development was manifested mainly when parent fleas fed on D. dasyurus. Duration of pupation decreased with increasing larval density only in offspring of fleas fed on G. dasyurus. In both fleas, pupation was longer in males. The effect of parent host on duration of pupation was found in X. ramesis only (longer if the host was M. crassus). Resistance of newly emerged fleas to starvation depended mainly on parent host species. Young X. conformis survived longer if their parents fed on D. dasyurus, whereas young X. ramesis survived longer if their parents fed on M. crassus. It was also found that (a) an individual flea that spent more time as a larva also spent more time as a pupa and (b) longer larval development resulted in a shorter time that a newly emerged flea was able to survive when starved.

publication date

  • January 1, 2010