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A Biogeography of the Human Flea, Pulex irritans L. (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae)

Paul C. Buckland and Jon P. Sadler
Journal of Biogeography
Vol. 16, No. 2 (Mar., 1989), pp. 115-120
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/2845085
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2845085
Page Count: 6
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A Biogeography of the Human Flea, Pulex irritans L. (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae)
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Abstract

The human flea, Pulex irritans L., has been recovered from archaeological sediments in Viking York (England), Dublin (Ireland) and abandoned farm sites in Norse Greenland. In contrast with the other human ectoparasites, however, the origins of the flea appear to be Central to South American, where several congeners are known. The probable routes by which the species reached Western Europe are discussed and resolved in favour of a Beringian and Asiatic one, at any time during the Postglacial. Although this flea is presently relatively promiscuous, initial evolution is likely to have involved a single host, which should be South American in origin and eventually closely associated with man; the guinea-pig or peccary are suggested. The model, with core area in South America and subsequent spread northwards, has yet to be tested by the examination of suitable deposits in the Americas.

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