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Old 08-22-2014, 06:32 PM
PapSett PapSett is offline
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What Purpose do Fleas Serve?

In my experience, just about every living creature fills a niche in the circle of life. Even some mof those I despise mose like flies, who help dispose of dead things and are also eaten, and moquitos, who are eaten by other creatures.

But fleas... what do fleas DO except make other animals miserable? They are not a diet staple that I am aware of, they don't act as a clean up crew, they just... are. Can anyone come up with a good explanation why every flea on the face of the planet should not die???



(Yeah... I hate fleas with the passion & heat of a thousand imploding suns.)
  #2  
Old 08-22-2014, 06:39 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Fleas serve the purpose of making more fleas.

It might not be a purpose you support but fleas don't care about your opinion on the subject.
  #3  
Old 08-22-2014, 06:43 PM
Kobal2 Kobal2 is offline
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What purpose does a virus serve ?

Or a human being ?

Fleas are pretty good at being and keeping alive - they reproduce ridiculously fast, pitch their tents right on top of their meal ticket (which will then do all of the busy work and can sustain the hunger of, like, a billion fleas at a time) and they have zero predators or other cause of unnatural death that I'm aware of aside from the dreaded B-A-T-H.
They're very close to the ideal, perfect life form. Right next to cockroaches, naturally.
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Old 08-22-2014, 06:44 PM
leahcim leahcim is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Fleas serve the purpose of making more fleas.
In fact, dogs only exist for the purpose of providing a substrate for fleas, and humans only exist to take care of the dogs while they do this. The OP has been greatly misinformed about the purpose of the ecosystem.
  #5  
Old 08-22-2014, 06:45 PM
Sherrerd Sherrerd is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Fleas serve the purpose of making more fleas.
Yes. If a predator or parasite can find a niche that supports its life and reproduction, then it will occupy that niche.









Thus: Nancy Grace.
  #6  
Old 08-22-2014, 06:48 PM
Bozuit Bozuit is offline
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Some parasitic nematodes kill fleas in order to reproduce, and anything small enough (frogs, lizards, spiders, etc.) will eat fleas if they get a chance.
  #7  
Old 08-22-2014, 06:49 PM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is offline
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I think when over crowding occurs fleas may contribute to slowing down growth of a species. Overkill to the max as they might only make things miserable for a century at a time before they get the opportunity to really do some useful killing.
  #8  
Old 08-22-2014, 06:56 PM
Flywheel Flywheel is offline
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God in His wisdom made the flea,
And then forgot to tell us whea.
  #9  
Old 08-22-2014, 07:12 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by Sherrerd View Post
Thus: Nancy Grace.
No, I think we can blame that one on Satan.
  #10  
Old 08-22-2014, 07:14 PM
Sherrerd Sherrerd is offline
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Well, one of those explanations is bound to be the true one.
  #11  
Old 08-22-2014, 07:23 PM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is offline
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You can't have a flea circus without fleas.
  #12  
Old 08-22-2014, 07:24 PM
The Great Unwashed The Great Unwashed is offline
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Big fleas have little fleas,
Upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
And so, ad infinitum.
  #13  
Old 08-22-2014, 07:39 PM
Flywheel Flywheel is offline
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Adam
Had 'em
  #14  
Old 08-22-2014, 07:50 PM
JackieLikesVariety JackieLikesVariety is offline
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I had some success* putting predatory nematodes in the soil and they ate the flea's larvae. I guess I spelled that right.

so the nematodes would be pro-flea.




*unless I just have less fleas for some other reason. I couldn't actually SEE the nematodes so I may have just spent $16 for a sponge...
  #15  
Old 08-22-2014, 07:59 PM
Dale Sams Dale Sams is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kobal2 View Post
What purpose does a virus serve ?

Or a human being ?

Fleas are pretty good at being and keeping alive - they reproduce ridiculously fast, pitch their tents right on top of their meal ticket (which will then do all of the busy work and can sustain the hunger of, like, a billion fleas at a time) and they have zero predators or other cause of unnatural death that I'm aware of aside from the dreaded B-A-T-H.
They're very close to the ideal, perfect life form. Right next to cockroaches, naturally.
They have me. I've slaughtered millions of them and will never stop. It's what I do. It's ALL I DO!
  #16  
Old 08-23-2014, 06:09 AM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
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Another view is they are still finding their place in that great cycle. We live in symbiotic harmony with many organisms that exist inside us. They and us have found it mutually beneficial and we evolved to allow this co-existence to the betterment of both. In the case of the flee, or other parasite there is a ongoing evolutionary war going on, slow but on going, as the host gets better with dealing and possibly eradicating it from it's species, and predators may evolve to also counter it. Evolution also gave rise to technology which is another way to battle these parasites. So it's purpose, as you are asking, may not be yet realized but lies in the natural evolution process, our ability to stop/hinder their parasitism using technology and their ability to evolve to something that has beneficial qualities.

So unless/until the flee starts being some sort of benefit and stops just taking from others, it will always be a much despised member of the kingdom.

Last edited by kanicbird; 08-23-2014 at 06:11 AM.
  #17  
Old 08-23-2014, 06:20 AM
bob++ bob++ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Great Unwashed View Post
Big fleas have little fleas,
Upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
And so, ad infinitum.
Great name combo
  #18  
Old 08-23-2014, 06:25 AM
Mijin Mijin is offline
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I think in the garden of eden they checked hair for split ends.
Now they're just trying to make the best of a bad situation, like the rest of us.
  #19  
Old 08-23-2014, 06:27 AM
The Great Unwashed The Great Unwashed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flywheel View Post
Adam
Had 'em
As did Eve
Though that part is make believe
Had there really been an Eden
There would have been some fleas a-breedin'
  #20  
Old 08-23-2014, 07:14 AM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Great Unwashed View Post
Big fleas have little fleas,
Upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
And so, ad infinitum.
This.
__________________
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  #21  
Old 08-23-2014, 07:16 AM
JKilez JKilez is offline
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Fleas are very important to the spread of disease. This makes them important for survival of some strains of bacteria. Without them, Yersinia Pestis would never have had its reign as king of all microbes.
  #22  
Old 08-23-2014, 07:17 AM
kayaker kayaker is offline
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Fleas have made fortunes for the companies that produce flea killing products.
  #23  
Old 08-23-2014, 07:22 AM
grude grude is offline
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Species don't have purposes or roles, they fill niches available.

Purpose implies context or value judgements, which don't exist in nature.
  #24  
Old 08-23-2014, 08:18 AM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grude View Post
Species don't have purposes or roles, they fill niches available.

Purpose implies context or value judgements, which don't exist in nature.
Except that it could be easily said that humans which are part of nature indeed have a purpose and role becasue we created a purpose and role for ourselves, one such purpose/role could be said to intentionally guide (including genetically alter) evolution to our benefit. With this we have created purposeful created organisms, all part of the natural cycle.

Last edited by kanicbird; 08-23-2014 at 08:21 AM.
  #25  
Old 08-23-2014, 08:37 AM
tnetennba tnetennba is offline
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Well, sometimes if parents will not condone a marriage, a flea can bite both lovers and by letting their blood mingle in its tiny chamber, become marriage bed and temple. If you're into that kind of thing, I mean.
  #26  
Old 08-23-2014, 10:04 AM
Dale Sams Dale Sams is offline
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If fleas could develop an anti-coagulant that doesn't itch...they could have their fill and hop along their merry way.
  #27  
Old 08-23-2014, 10:16 AM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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Ukulele tuning.
  #28  
Old 08-23-2014, 10:42 AM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Great Unwashed View Post
Big fleas have little fleas,
Upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
And so, ad infinitum.
Did Issac Asimov write the fish poem, or did he, too, swipe it?
  #29  
Old 08-23-2014, 10:45 AM
GESancMan GESancMan is offline
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Playing bass.
  #30  
Old 08-23-2014, 02:04 PM
Sherrerd Sherrerd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grude View Post
Species don't have purposes or roles, they fill niches available.
Purpose implies context or value judgements, which don't exist in nature.
Yep. I can't see how the thread question can make sense in any context other than some sort of 'intelligent design' belief, looking for support for that belief. And I doubt that General Questions is the right sub-forum at SDMB for discussion of that. (What would be...IMHO? Great Debates?)

I'm not trying to characterize the OP. I am just assuming (unless corrected) that the idea that a particular life form must 'serve a purpose' in the Earth biosphere comes out of creationist or related modes of belief.
  #31  
Old 08-23-2014, 03:34 PM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
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Originally Posted by Sherrerd View Post
Yep. I can't see how the thread question can make sense in any context other than some sort of 'intelligent design' belief, looking for support for that belief. And I doubt that General Questions is the right sub-forum at SDMB for discussion of that. (What would be...IMHO? Great Debates?)

I'm not trying to characterize the OP. I am just assuming (unless corrected) that the idea that a particular life form must 'serve a purpose' in the Earth biosphere comes out of creationist or related modes of belief.
It is also a normal reaction in terms of being human, frustrated with flees I can see a person say in that frustration 'what purpose do you serve, why are you here?', so it may be just the classic philosophic question 'why are we here' which is not spiritual by nature but only probing and asking.
  #32  
Old 08-23-2014, 03:48 PM
Sherrerd Sherrerd is offline
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Originally Posted by kanicbird View Post
It is also a normal reaction in terms of being human, frustrated with flees I can see a person say in that frustration 'what purpose do you serve, why are you here?', so it may be just the classic philosophic question 'why are we here' which is not spiritual by nature but only probing and asking.
That's fair. It might be as you describe.
  #33  
Old 08-23-2014, 04:00 PM
grude grude is offline
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There are a LOT of odd beliefs about nature and evolution out there even among the non-religious. I'm sure everyone has heard "humans are the most evolved animal" or "what is the endpoint of evolution?" or "when does evolution stop?". Or anthropomorphizing or giving agency to evolution, "what does evolution want anyway, what is the endgoal?".
  #34  
Old 08-23-2014, 06:05 PM
wolfpup wolfpup is online now
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Originally Posted by Kobal2 View Post
What purpose does a virus serve ?

Or a human being ?
Indeed, what "purpose" do humans serve? (We don't even have enough fur to participate in proper symbiosis by being viable hosts for fleas! We do, however, seem to be doing a uniquely terrific job of wiping out other species and their entire habitats.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by leahcim View Post
The OP has been greatly misinformed about the purpose of the ecosystem.
Pretty much sums it up.
  #35  
Old 08-23-2014, 06:43 PM
tnetennba tnetennba is offline
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He is also greatly underestimating the energy of even one imploding star. No way even the most hateful human being can generate that much heat.
  #36  
Old 08-23-2014, 08:56 PM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is offline
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If fleas were suddenly wiped out what effect might it have? I don't think arid regions have fleas. Do fleas transmit anti bodies as well as diseases?
  #37  
Old 08-23-2014, 09:51 PM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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Fleas provide exercise for their hosts. Without all that scratching, we'd have generations of fat dogs, cats, rats, etc.
  #38  
Old 08-23-2014, 10:04 PM
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They do nothing for me (that I'm aware of), but they're nice vectors for some diseases, so it's cool.
  #39  
Old 08-23-2014, 10:05 PM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
You can't have a flea circus without fleas.
Or flea markets. You can't have flea markets without fleas.
  #40  
Old 08-24-2014, 06:59 AM
kayaker kayaker is offline
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Dipylidium caninum, a tapeworm species, uses the flea as an intermediate host.
  #41  
Old 08-24-2014, 10:10 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Ukulele tuning.
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Playing bass.
  #42  
Old 08-24-2014, 10:17 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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Well, sometimes if parents will not condone a marriage, a flea can bite both lovers and by letting their blood mingle in its tiny chamber, become marriage bed and temple. If you're into that kind of thing, I mean.
I think we're donne here.
  #43  
Old 08-24-2014, 10:23 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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A flea is a hairy diadem to another flea, I suppose.
  #44  
Old 08-24-2014, 10:30 AM
kayaker kayaker is offline
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Red Hot Chili Peppers for the bass ref.
  #45  
Old 08-24-2014, 10:35 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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A flea is a hairy diadem to another flea, I suppose.
I just thought of, and TM now, the insult of calling a woman a flying cunt--a fearsome relative of a bitch on wheels.
  #46  
Old 08-24-2014, 03:40 PM
PapSett PapSett is offline
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He is also greatly underestimating the energy of even one imploding star. No way even the most hateful human being can generate that much heat.
"He" is a she, last time I checked. And I was simply making a statement as to how much I do hate fleas.

I just *love* how I can't ask a question here without being ridiculed.
  #47  
Old 08-24-2014, 03:44 PM
PapSett PapSett is offline
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Yep. I can't see how the thread question can make sense in any context other than some sort of 'intelligent design' belief, looking for support for that belief. And I doubt that General Questions is the right sub-forum at SDMB for discussion of that. (What would be...IMHO? Great Debates?)

I'm not trying to characterize the OP. I am just assuming (unless corrected) that the idea that a particular life form must 'serve a purpose' in the Earth biosphere comes out of creationist or related modes of belief.
No, I am not a creationist religious fanatic in the least. Lost any belief in a 'god' a long time ago. Perhaps I didn't phrase my question very well, or perhaps I'm just an easy target. Maybe a little of both. What I wonder is: Is there an ECOLOGICAL PURPOSE for fleas? If they vanished, what impact would be made?

Is that better?
  #48  
Old 08-24-2014, 04:17 PM
Kobal2 Kobal2 is offline
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That's... not much better. No species has an "ecological purpose".
Like, plovers clean crocodiles' teeth and find their food that way (also avoid getting munched) in a neat symbiotic relationship ; but it would be silly to say that the purpose of plovers is to clean croc teeth, just as it would be silly to say the purpose of a crocodile is to provide food and protection to plover colonies.

They both exist. They both perpetuate themselves, first through feeding, then through reproduction. And that's it. The same is true for every other living being out there, from amoebas to planet-sized psychic space whales (SotS, anybody ?).

If all fleas suddenly popped out of existence, well, fleas would be much bummed. Maybe another parasite would get its chance to shine and be complete freeloading dicks - at least that's what happens in the corporate world . But maybe not.

I'll tell you, though, the social life of chimps would probably be very negatively impacted. Picking fleas off each other's fur is a big bonding and community-building ritual among them I believe. Though I suppose they could just switch to alcohol and oral sex like everyone else.
  #49  
Old 08-24-2014, 04:21 PM
thecavalry thecavalry is offline
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No animal exists to provide some purpose. They exist because they're good at propagation.
  #50  
Old 08-24-2014, 04:34 PM
BrotherCadfael BrotherCadfael is online now
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A curious creature is the flea.
You cannot tell the He from She.
But He can tell,
And so can She.
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