Tunga penetrans

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Also known as: Chigger — Jigger — Chigoe — Sand flea

Tunga penetrans
Class Insecta
Order Siphonaptera
Family Hectopsyllidae
Species Tunga penetrans
Pearson Scott Foresman 2007, Wikimedia Commons


Humans and Pigs are the primary hosts. Reservoir hosts include: cattle, sheep, horses, mules, rats, mice, dogs and some wild animals.


T. penetrans is a parasite of the family Hectopsyllidae. The female is around 1mm, and the male is smaller at around 0.5mm in length. The thorax is rather short, and a reddy-brown in colour.

See general flea structure.

Life Cycle

The breeding female burrow into exposed skin on the feet of mammals. They remain there for around 14 days while they develop their eggs. They enter the host using their adapted mouthparts, and the female will feed on the host body fluids.

The skin surrounding the parasite will expand and swell, leaving an opening for eggs to pass, and infect the environment.

The eggs require around 3 days to hatch, and the total life cycle requires about 12 days.

See general flea life cycle.

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