“Why don’t fleas fly?”

A figure from Robert Hooke's Micrographia, whi...
This whole post makes me itchy.

This afternoon, after we had exhausted the topic of heartworm treatment in dogs (don’t ask), my daughter asked me about fleas. Specifically, “Why don’t fleas fly?”

At last, an easy answer, I thought. “Because they don’t have wings.”

“Why don’t they have wings?”

“Because they hop,” I said, hoping my daughter wouldn’t notice that I hadn’t really answered her question.

“Why do they hop?”

“Because they don’t have wings?” I said, cringing a bit because I knew where this was going.

“Why don’t they have wings?”

“Because then they would be flies?”

(Gentle Reader, while I know there must be a better answer than this out there somewhere, I am falling short of it this afternoon — “very far short” my daughter tells me. Anyone have any better answers for her?)


    • Thanks for the link. I’m sure it won’t surprise you one bit that on hearing that fleas have “retained several evolutionary features of flight” my daughter’s first question was “When did fleas have wings?” Most likely I’m at fault for oversimplifying that particular string of words when I translated this article for her. I’m still working out the bugs in my “Translate To Preschooler” module. I expect it will work perfectly once she’s a teenager.

      And how cool is it that this study of how fleas jump may change the way robots of the future move?


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