Flea

When the Princess Badoura was placed on Prince Camaralzaman's bed, in order to compare their claims to beauty, the fairy Maimounë changed herself into a flea, and bit the prince on the neck in order to awake him. Next, the genius Danhasch changed himself into a flea and bit the princess on the lip, that she might open her eyes and see the prince. (Arabian Nights; Camaralzaman and Badoura.)

Flea

as a parasite.

Hobbes clearly proves that every creature
Lives in a state of war by nature;
So naturalists observe a flea
as smaller fleas that on him prey,
And these have smaller still to bite 'em,
And so proceed ad infinitum.

Swift: Poetry; a Rhapsody.

Sent off with a flea in his ear.
Peremptorily. A dog which has a flea in the ear is very restless, and runs off in terror and distress. In French: Mettre à quelqu'un puce à l'oreille. Probably our change of word implies a pun.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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