This flea species is the one most notorious for spreading Bubonic Plague, as it has a tendency to become infected with the pathogen. While feeding on an infected host animal the plague bacteria are ingested, but these bacteria may form a blockage in the foregut of the flea, preventing it from swallowing additional blood. In an effort to clear this blockage the adult flea regurgitates as it attempts to feed, potentially pushing the bacteria into the new host animal. The worse the blockage gets the more it attempts to feed, accelerating the transmitting of the disease to many hosts. The life cycle is, otherwise, similar to most fleas. Eggs are deposited on the host animals, which includes rodents most often, and the eggs fall to the substrate and the larvae feed on organic materials there.
Since this species most often infests wild rodents and peridomestic rodents such as Norway and Roof rats, eliminating these host animals is necessary. Ground squirrels also are common hosts for this flea and in the western U.S. are considered to be a primary reservoir for bubonic plague. Where permitted, fumigation of rodent burrows with aluminum phosphide will kill the host animals as well as all parasites in the burrow. Dusting of burrows with a contact insecticide can also be effective.