Friday, 27 May 2011
Nearly Missed It!
Trundling around on the bus, as I do from time to time, I'm free to read posters and look in windows and indulge in so many activities that are not possible when driving.
So this morning I was delighted to see that I have not quite missed National Flea Month, which is May.
Just a few days left for the action, then.
National Flea Month, also billed as Flea Awareness Month, should really be called Flea Extermination Month on the posters displayed in the several vets' practices along the route of the 44 bus.
It seems to be about getting your pets de-flead in this month of great flea fertility.
Which is understandable, and good for cats and dogs and vets, but could we not also be celebrating a creature of immense power, durability, adaptability and ingenuity; a species which has probably been around for longer than we have, and has travelled the world?
A flea can lay 50 eggs a day, and so produce another thousand of its type in three weeks. It has specialised and adapted so finely that there is a specific moorhen flea, never mind just those that like dog, cat or human blood.
Standing on its tiny flat feet it can jump 200 times its own body length, and it does this, not by muscle-power, but by using a special protein called resilin.
Now why haven't humans learned how to harness a power like that? Imagine the saving in time and fuel. On the other hand, imagine the confusion of mass-landing sites, with all the young commuters leaping over to Canary Wharf every morning.
It has learned to combat its enemies with a tough little body, hard enough to withstand scratching and deliberate mashing by its unwilling hosts.
Its babies, immature larvae, are smart, too. They can lurk in cosy places, under the sofa, in the carpet, and emerge when they sense the vibration of a passing potential host. This is equivalent to a human baby deciding to pop out when it knows there's a smart new nursery ready and the weather is going to be good for a few weeks.
So in the few remaining days of this special month perhaps we could show some true appreciation, celebration and respect for the flea.
I'm not sure how, but I'll do my best to think of something.