These fleas have an unusual biology in that they generally live in soil and sandy areas, but on a regular basis they will get onto a host animal to feed and then fall off again. The female, when ready to produce her eggs, needs a final blood meal and at this time she burrows into the skin of the host animal, head first to allow the tip of the abdomen to protrude so that she can breathe. Over the next 2 weeks she swells to the size of a pea, produces several dozen eggs that are released to drop to the soil, and following this the female flea dies. On humans the infection is nearly always on the feet, due to barefoot activities in infested areas, and the point of infection may be a large blister with a black dot in the center, which is the flea. This infection is referred to as “tungiasis”. Other areas of the body that contact bare skin with infested soils, such as hands or arms, may also be the site of the infection.
Prevention of infections by wearing shoes and other clothing when active in areas known to be infested are the main control. These fleas will also infect many other animals.