Fleas are tiny jumping insects that bite dogs, cats, and people. A flea infestation on a pet, in a yard, or inside a residence can quickly grow out of control as fleas reproduce rapidly. Here are some important tips to keep fleas away this summer.
Understand How Fleas Spread
Fleas spread from animal host to animal host. In most cases, a pet dog or cat acquires fleas from another dog or cat. Fleas may spread in dog parks, boarding facilities, and neighborhoods where pets play or socialize. All it takes is one flea to jump on your pet, and the next thing you know, your carpet is bouncing with fleas.
Some cases of residential and pet infestations happen when wild animal hosts such as skunks or foxes move to a new nesting site or die. The fleas on the wild animal hosts or in the animals’ burrows then scatter and jump on other animal hosts in the nearby vicinity. Opossums, squirrels, and raccoons that live in crawl spaces or attics also spread fleas inside homes.
Know the Flea’s Life Cycle
One female flea lays up to 40 eggs per day while she’s feeding on blood from a dog or cat host. The eggs fall off the pet and into carpet, bedding, and grass. Larvae hatch from the eggs and eat blood droppings and other organic debris as the larvae develop.
The larvae then move to protected spots to encase themselves in debris-covered cocoons. At this stage, the immature fleas are called pupae. Pupae can emerge within weeks of being hatched as larvae, or the pupae can remain in a dormant state for months as the immature fleas wait for warm-blooded animals to appear.
You may not notice the emerging larvae or pupae, since the immature flea larvae and pupae are barely visible to the naked eye. However, the warmth and vibration of living hosts nearby trigger the pupae to emerge from their cocoons as adult fleas and start feasting on their human or animal hosts.
After only two days of feasting on your dog or cat, a newly emerged adult-flea female begins laying eggs. When a home or yard offers the right conditions for larval development, the flea’s life cycle from egg to adult flea occurs in as little as two weeks. When a home or yard offers less favorable conditions for flea larvae, the fleas’ life cycle may not be completed for as long as an entire year.
Apply Flea Treatments to Repel Fleas on Pets
One of the best ways to keep fleas out of your home is to treat your dog or cat with a flea preventive product. Modern flea-control treatments for pets include products that interfere with the normal egg production of fleas.
Some of the products available for pet flea control include the following:
- Pills taken orally once a month
- Collars that contain residual adult-flea insecticide
- Collars that contain insect growth regulators (IGR)
- Spot treatments given every three months
- Powders and sprays applied as needed
Experts recommend that you begin treating your pet for flea prevention as early as possible in the spring. However, consult your veterinarian about appropriate flea treatments when you have a mix of pet species. Some of the most popular canine flea treatments contain permethrin, and permethrin is a feline toxin. Some flea killing agents are dangerous for aquatic pests and reptiles, too.
If your chosen flea treatment is not working, ensure that you applied the product the right way. So far, fleas have not developed a resistance to the sterilizing agents and growth-regulating agents included in preventives. If fleas are still present after you treated your pet, and you’re sure you applied the preventive properly, talk with your veterinarian about additional treatments including injections.
Seek Professional Help With Flea Outbreaks
Your professional pest control service has products that treat the entire home for fleas. The professionals apply residential flea sprays that contain IGRs and other ingredients that kill adult fleas. Since flea larvae and pupae nest in hidden nooks and crannies including behind floorboards, a whole-house treatment covers all of the areas where the immature fleas are hiding.
Your pest control company may also recommend treating your yard, shed, vehicle-carpet, and outdoor pet areas for fleas when you have a large infestation of fleas. You can help the professionals get rid of your fleas by washing all pet bedding at the same time the flea treatment is applied to your home.
Use a vacuum cleaner religiously to pull any remaining larvae or pupae out of carpets, upholstery, and floor cracks. Immediately after vacuuming up your home’s flea-infested areas, remove the inner bag from the vacuum cleaner and toss it in a garbage bag. Close the bag and throw it away, since the flea larvae can continue to grow inside the vacuum bag and later hop out looking for blood.
Are fleas taking over your house or yard in the Aurora, Rolling Meadows, or Berwyn areas? Contact Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management right away to schedule effective flea treatment for your home and property in the Chicago suburbs.