Flea Circus: the smallest show on Earth

Roll up and see the world-famous performing fleas! Believe it, or not?

Where: Watch now on the BES Youtube channel! Remember to click subscribe to access all of the latest BES events.

For over 150 years, audiences have been paying their sixpences to be amazed by whole troupes of real, live, performing fleas.

The idea of a flea circus is a definitely a head-scratcher but Dr Tim Cockerill is here to persuade you that, until recently, this was 100% a genuine spectacle, made up of live fleas pulling chariots, riding tricycles and even fighting duels with perfectly crafted miniature swords.

Find out all about the life and nature of these insect star-performers, how the Flea Circus Professors fed their fleas, and which household appliance spelled the demise of the Flea Circus in the 1950s.

After several years researching the history and techniques of the flea circus, Tim has uncovered previously unseen footage and photos of the fleas in action. Tim has also tracked down the last remaining Flea Circus Professors, who have taught him the secret techniques of flea training. This is a show you can’t afford to miss!

Dr Tim Cockerill is a naturalist, broadcaster and photographer, but also has a not-so-secret career as a circus and sideshow performer. When not eating fire or walking on broken glass, he spends several months each year in tropical rainforests collecting weird and wonderful insects for scientific study. He uses his scientific expertise as a presenter and consultant for TV and Radio, including a trips collecting flying frogs in Borneo with David Attenborough. Tim has talked about spiders live on The One Show and about eels and leeches live on CBBC.

Organised by the British Ecological Society in association with the Royal Entomological Society for celebrating ‘Insect Week’.