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.


Jane said...

I'm quite entranced by the thought of communters hopping to work, it would certainly be a different kind of rush hour! It's a different take on the flea fair though isn't it?

Relatively Retiring said...

Ah, the truly inspirational Flea Fair. Perhaps that's the best way to celebrate?

marigold jam said...

Brilliant - we often forget to appreciate (or maybe not!) such creatures as fleas and cockroaches which have evolved to survive almost anything. Probably just as well that humans are not as indestructible as there wouldn't be enough room for us all and certainly not enough space to hop to work at Canary Wharf (where my daughter used to work) or anywhere else would there!

Flea Market? Flea Circus? Do you think there'd be much interest amongst the general public?!

Relatively Retiring said...

Marigold Jam: yes, there are certainly a great many more of the tiny critters than there are of us....microbes and viruses, too. All built to out-survive us.
The Flea Market, held on a very large local agricultural showground attracts many hundreds of buyers and sellers every Bank Holiday, but possibly not many fleas.
Perhaps the Flea Circus is due for revival? There are a few days left to organise this.

Peregrina said...

Like nephew, like aunt? Appreciating the attributes of small creatures?

Relatively Retiring said...

Peregrina: good to hear from you. All creatures great and small.......but I really like the idea of National Flea Month. I'm looking forward to Bed-Bug Week, which will probably be in August if the sun comes out again.

pohanginapete said...

Hooray! Great to see a celebration of things usually considered vermin. Sure, fleas cause problems for us (bubonic plague, spread by fleas and responsible for killing a substantial proportion of the human population of Europe in the 14th century, is a notable example!), but they're also astonishing animals, as your post points out so well.

Relatively Retiring said...

P.Pete: thank you. I'm sure you'll meet a few on your travels and will be able to show your appreciation at close quarters.

Isabelle said...

Yes, well, after you RR.

I really like your post about one's function in older age. Indeed.

Slugs? They're to inject some suffering into our lives, lest we become too cheerful...

Anne said...

I think we should include humans in the same category as fleas, cockroaches and perhaps rats in being prolific reproducers, populators of the world, and adapters to all sorts of environments. Except we probably do more damage than those other critters. We are destroying our world, and fleas have learned to live and let live with dogs and cats and moor hens.

Relatively Retiring said...

Isabelle: thank you. I'm glad you liked the oldie post!

Anne: thank you for your comment, and the point you make. I agree. All other natural forms will find a balance, but we humans so often don't approve of it and feel we have the right to interfere.

herhimnbryn said...

I do like travelling on a bus. It gives you time to think. And people watch!

I shall think on the flea today...John Donne's poem comes to mind!

Anonymous said...

Tried to leave a comment when we were in Maggie Valley, NC -- think it was when Blogger was having "situations and issues." I thought it was a fairly clever riposte to your nifty flea post; but alas, like so many of my "clever" words, I don't have a clue now what I tried to write! :)