Tunga penetrans


Virtual Microscope


  • Insect: Three part body (head/thorax /abdomen) and 6 legs
  • oval insects
  • laterally compressed
  • Very small (1 mm)
  • No wings
  • Holometabolous development
  • Three pairs of legs (hind legs for jumping)
  • and a triangular head
  • Both females and males feed on blood
  • Not host-specific
  • Immediately leave dead hosts (reservoirs) 
  • Live in sandy soils


Life cycle:

  • Complete metamorphosis (holometabol development) from egg to pupae 23-47 days 
  • Female lays 20-25 eggs per day
  • Only adults are blood feeder, become 1 ½ years old
  • Eggs, larvae and pupae are found on the ground or in bedsteads (larvae feed on organic material)
  • Adult flea emerge from the cocoon by an outside stimuli (vibrations, sound, heat, carbon dioxide)
  • Distribution: Caribbean, South America, Africa (south of the Sahara)


  • Not disease vectors but painful as they embed in the skin


  • Wearing shoes

Egg of Tunge penetrans

Tunga penetrans female after section