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Vacuum Cleaner a Futuristic Flea Flicker?

COLOMBUS, Ohio

If fleas have you scratching your ankles, relief may be as close as your vacuum cleaner. Researchers at Ohio State University have found that vacuuming kills 96 percent of adult fleas on cats, and 100 percent of fleas during their immature, larval stages.

"It appears that the physical abuse caused them to perish," said Glen Needham, associate professor of entomology at Ohio State. And since flea eggs are even more delicate than adults, they are even less likely to outlast a visit to Vac-World.

The fleas can survive a simple windstorm and isolation in the vacuum bag, but the combination-of-ingredients attack by the vacuum's brushes, fans and air currents apparently removes the cuticle, a waxy layer that keeps the insects hydrated.

Although the study tested a single upright vacuum, Needham discounted the importance of vacuum design. "No matter what vacuum a flea gets sucked into, it's probably a one-way trip."

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The Why Files: The Science Behind the News

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: Apr. 28, 2009

Price: $15.00

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Penguin Media/Publicity Contacts:

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Abigail.Dalton@us.penguingroup.com


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