Fleas: What are they, how to get rid of them.
Typical flea species that are classed as pests include the following:
Cat flea, (Ctenocephalides felis), this is the most common pest flea in many regions. In addition to cats it’s known to attack dogs, rats, humans and other mammals.
Dog flea, (Ctenocephalides canis), this is very similar in appearance to the cat flea, but seems to be less commonly encountered, it also attacks a wide range of mammals.
Human flea, (Pulex irritans), this flea also attacks dogs, pigs, rats and mice.
Oriental Rat flea, (Xenopsylla cheopis), favoured host is the rat. This is the principal vector of bubonic plague and murine typhus.
Where do fleas live and what do they eat?
The life cycle of the flea is similar to that of a moth – egg, larva, (caterpillar), pupa, (cocoon) and adult. A newly hatched adult flea is unfed, small, black and aggressive – some people mistakenly refer to these as ground or sand fleas. After they have had a blood meal, fleas lighten in colour and become larger. For every flea on your pet there may be hundreds waiting to hatch, Fleas lay eggs on the pet when the host is resting. The white eggs fall off the pet onto the carpet, soil etc. Small blind larvae emerge from the eggs. These larvae move away from the light, burrowing down into the carpet, cracks in floorboards or into the soil. They feed on protein, such as flea droppings of partly digested blood. They moult (3) three times before forming a pupa. The larva changes into the adult in the pupa. The pupa is sticky, so it binds its surrounds to itself, becoming invisible.
When Are Flea’s Most Active?
In summer, a flea may be ready to hatch from the pupa about 7-14 days after it is formed, however they can remain dormant for up to 18 months. Hatching of the flea from the pupa is triggered by nearby movement/ vibration, predominantly during warm, moist weather conditions.
After feeding on the host, the engorged female is capable of laying up to five hundred eggs over a lifetime which spans weeks or even months.
How to get rid of them
Preparation before Treatment
Once an infestation of fleas is discovered, it is important that certain measures are taken before chemical application is carried out.
A thorough cleaning of the house is an important preparatory measure and should not be taken lightly. Remove all pets bedding from inside the home and wash it in hot water or destroy it. Vacuum all carpets, especially where pets sleep or rest, under furniture, in built-in cupboards, cracks and crevices along walls and also under or between the cushions of the lounge chairs.
After vacuuming, empty the contents into an airtight plastic bag and before sealing destroy the adult fleas by misting into the bag with an aerosol (not surface spray) or by burning. All floors, including built-in cupboards, should be cleared of boxes and other items such as toys, shoes etc, so that our Amalgamated Pest Control technician will have ready access to the entire floor surface.
All affected pets, e.g. cats and dogs, should be treated by a vet or the owner. It is important that the owners realise that unless the animals are clear of fleas the problem will remain.
On arrival at the home the Amalgamated Pest Control technician will check that the necessary preparations have been carried out, and advise the customer of any other assistance we may need such as:-
- Close all windows and doors
- Ensure that fish tanks, highly polished furniture and plastic stereo covers are covered and bird cages removed.
The treatment (inside) will be applied to all floor surfaces such as carpets, rugs, vinyl tiles etc, and under cushions of lounge chairs where possible.
The insecticide used will be of low toxicity to humans and domestic animals and like insecticide, it requires people and domestic animals to be away from the area being treated until it has completely dried. The outside of the house will be treated depending on the severity of the infestation; some of the yard will also be treated. Wen will pay particular attention to areas where animals roam and rest, e.g. on lawns, along fence lines, under clothes lien, under shrubs etc.
After the treatment is completed the Amalgamated Pest Control technician will check that the treatment inside the home has completely dried.
Once dried customer can then enter the premises and resume all their normal activities. At this stage, all of the adult fleas will have died. However, over the next fourteen days, the customer will see the odd fleas, mainly during the early mornings as they hatch out of their cocoons. These fleas, as they move about the carpet, will come in contact with the insecticide and die within a couple of hours.
Is pest control safe?
The insecticide has low toxicity to humans and pets, as previously mentioned, and has a short residual life to enable it to control the emerging fleas. It is important that the carpets are not cleaned or vacuumed for approximately one week after treatment. Fleas may be found in the home during the warranty period if the pets are not regularly treated and are allowed to roam in infested areas. This is the responsibility of the customer and they must ensure that their pets are free of fleas at all times.
If you would like further advice or assistance with Fleas please contact your local Amalgamated Pest Control branch.