There are more than 2,000 species of flea in the world, the most common of which are the cat flea and dog flea. They are small insects which bite their host to extract blood.
- They live in furnishings, bedding and carpets in the home. They are reddish and are instantly recognisable by their extremely long hind legs and flattened shape
- Flea larvae feed on organic debris and actively move deep into carpet where they pupate and may remain undisturbed for many months
- Adult fleas are stimulated by vibration and emerge hungry from their cocoons
- All fleas live exclusively as parasites on warm blooded animals and although they have a preferred host, normally a mammal, both the cat and dog flea can feed from other animals and man. As well as being found on the host, fleas can be found in the host's bedding. Cat fleas are by far the most common.
How do you know if fleas are present?
- Fleas should always be considered if your pet starts to scratch. If you part the coat so you can see the skin you may see a flea or the presence of "flea-dirt"- tiny black specks just visible on the skin surface, flea faeces with digested blood
- It is possible for humans to get bitten by fleas. If any member of your family gets red sore bites (often on lower legs or feet) it is worth considering that there may fleas in your home. If this happens you should also get your pets checked.
- Flea eggs are small, oval shaped and pearl white in colour. They are laid in fur or feathers of the host or in its bedding or resting material
- Eggs hatch into white thread like larvae in about a week. Larvae thrive in dark, humid places such as carpets and animal bedding
- After two or here weeks, they are fully grown and spin a cocoon and pupate
- The adult usually emerges within seven weeks but can remain as pupae all winter, only emerging when triggered by the movement of a suitable host
- Most of the flea's life cycle is in soft furnishings and pets bedding, not on the animal. Eggs are laid in a pet's coat and drop into carpets, establishing a new generation of fleas in the house. Treatment of the environment, as well as the animal, is essential to control fleas. It has been estimated that for every flea on the animal there are more than 100 in carpets and bedding.
Fleas are known carriers of disease and can be responsible for transmission of parasitic worms. In the UK fleas are not generally responsible for spreading infection but do inflict unpleasant bites on their host. A bite will be seen as a tiny red spot surrounded by a reddened area. It will remain irritating for one to two days and, in some cases may lead to hypersensitivity. You can reduce irritation using ointments from a chemist.
- It is important to regularly check pets for signs of fleas. This can be done by grooming your pet with a flea comb. If a flea is found it can be disposed of by placing it under water in a small bowl. Flea collars can be fitted to cats and dogs and are effective for several months. You can get more advice from your vet
- Thoroughly clean all infested clothing and bedding including pet bedding
- Thorough vacuum cleaning, especially in cracks and corners, on rugs, alongside radiators and your pet's favourite places in the house and the car is important
- Ensure your pets are free from infestation. Suitable insecticides are available from your vet or pet shops. Follow manufacturers' instructions
- We provide a chargeable service to treat premises infested with fleas. If you need help, please contact us. Alternatively you may wish to employ a private pest control company which you can find the phone book or on the internet.
NB: There is no point treating your home unless your pet is disinfested at the same time. If you make an appointment for a pest control officer to call you should ensure any animals can be de-flead at the same time although the officer cannot treat animals.
If you would like to discuss any of this or get advice on a particular pest control problem please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone us on 01329 236100.