Fleas are typically associated with pets, since animals are their primary hosts. Fleas feed on cat and dog blood then lay eggs, which fall on the animal’s nest, or anywhere the animal frequents. However, fleas can easily be passed from pets onto humans, or from other hosts, such as rodents, onto household pets and humans. It is also possible to have a flea infestation even if you do not have any pets.
The life cycle of a flea is similar to the life cycle of a butterfly. Female fleas lay eggs that turn in to grub-like larvae. The larvae then develop into pupae and settle inside a cocoon to further develop. These eggs eventually hatch into larvae, which in turn pupate into adult fleas. However, flea pupae can remain dormant for up to a year, making vigilant treatment of infestation areas very important for continued flea control.
Remember that adult fleas, pupae, larvae and eggs (fleas at all stages) should be killed to rid your house of them once and for all. Resistive pupae and larvae grow on to become adult fleas in a few weeks, even if all of the adult fleas have been killed. Fleas should be removed from your property at all stages in their life cycle, to best protect you, your family and your pets.
All About Fleas
Adult fleas are small, wingless insects that are approximately 2.5 millimeters (0.01 inches) long. They are reddish brown in color and their bodies typically look shiny, since they are covered in tiny hairs that allow them to move through animal fur easily. Fleas are parasitic pests that feed on the blood of their hosts, like mosquitoes or bed bugs. Adults prefer hairy animals, including household pets like dogs, cats and rabbits, and will feed on almost any wild or domesticated mammal they can find. Whey they prefer animals with fur, fleas will occasionally feed on humans as well.
These tiny pests do not have wings, so they cannot fly. However, they are capable of jumping very high into the air and very long distances, which enables them to get onto hosts of different sizes easily. Once a female flea feeds, she will lay between four and eight eggs on the host. These eggs aren’t attached to the host, which allows them to spread around your home. We’ll talk more about that later. They will typically hatch within a week and become larvae. They stay in the larvae stage anywhere from four days to three weeks and then spin a cocoon (like a butterfly) and enter the pupal stage, which can last from three days to a year.
Once adult fleas emerge from their cocoons at the end of their pupal stage, they will immediately begin looking for food. While they are great jumpers, they’ll stay put once they have found a host and a female will start laying eggs within 48 hours of the first time she feeds. The most common flea in the United States is the cat flea, which are especially small and slightly darker than other fleas. However, the dog flea, the human flea, the oriental flea and the rat flea can also all be found around the U.S.
While fleas prefer animal to human hosts, they do occasionally bite humans and their bites can be dangerous. Some people have allergic reactions to flea bites. Certain species of flea are also carriers of the plague, flea-borne typhus, bartonellosis and tungiasis. Flea tapeworm can also be transmitted in rare cases where children accidentally swallow a flea. They can also be dangerous for pets, as they can spread certain diseases to dogs and cats, cause severe itching which can damage your pets skin and in extreme cases can cause anemia.
How to Tell You Have Fleas
The good news is that fleas are large and obnoxious enough that they’re relatively easy to spot and identify in the adult stage. The bad news is that since young fleas and flea eggs are very small and relatively unobtrusive, they can be easy to overlook and often are not caught and eliminated when homeowners attempt flea control without the help of professionals. However, armed with good information, and with some backup from your friends, the flea control experts at Arrow Exterminators, you can learn how to spot fleas and identify and infestation so you can call for help before it becomes a real problem.
One of the easiest ways to tell if you have fleas is if you and your pets have been away from home for a long time. When you are away on vacation and fleas are not able to feed on you and your pets, they get extremely hungry. When you return the fleas will get excited and will start jumping around trying to land on you and your pets so they can feed. It will be fairly easy to see them doing this and this is a clear indication that you have a flea infestation in your home. Flea eggs, flea larvae and flea pupae are much harder to see, and usually live in environments where they are not easily seen or disturbed.
Another way to tell you have a flea infestation is if your pets are constantly scratching and grooming themselves, and we mean constantly. A little scratching and grooming is normal for dogs and cats; when it seems non-stop, that’s an indication that they’re uncomfortable and likely being pester by some kind of biting insect, like fleas. You might also experience flea bites which will leave behind itchy, red bite-marks. Flea dirt, which looks like ground black pepper, is also an indication of a flea infestation. You will find it anywhere that fleas are, including carpeting, bedding, furniture, rugs and pillows.
These younger, immature fleas do not need to feed as often as adult fleas and as such are much less active and harder to spot. They typically live inside or under furniture, in carpeting (particularly long, shaggy carpet), inside cracks in wood or tile flooring and in bedding, especially pet bedding. Flea eggs are laid by female fleas onto a host after feeding. However, as the host moves around, the eggs will fall off and are distributed around the house. So as your dog or cat runs around, plays with its toys and plays with your kids or other pets, it is distributing flea eggs to all corners of your home.
It is not important to be able to detect and eliminate these younger and unhatched fleas for various reasons. One, if you do not eliminate them, they will grow up to be pesky, biting adult fleas that will reproduce more flea eggs and the cycle will continue forever. Two, in a typical, flea-infested home, flea eggs and flea larvae account for 85 percent of the flea population in the house. That’s right, adult fleas are actually a very small percentage of the flea population in your home. So if you only focus on eliminating adult fleas, you’re missing the vast majority of the fleas that are in your home and will soon develop to bother you and your pets.
While adult fleas can be easy to spot and thus easier to find and eliminate, juvenile fleas and flea eggs are much smaller and much harder to spot and identify. This also makes them harder to eliminate. And since all fleas must be eliminated at all life stages to thoroughly eliminate a flea infestation from your home, it is best to call in a professional exterminator to identify and eliminate the fleas that are bothering you, your family and your pets.
You can get over-the-counter flea control products online or from some home improvement and hardware stores, but these will only provide temporary flea relief. They won’t resolve the root causes of your flea infestation and after a few days, you’ll be back to the store to buy more product. That’s a lot of time and money to spend on something that isn’t a permanent solution to your problem. The flea control experts at Arrow Exterminators can conduct a thorough inspection of your property and identify adult fleas, as well as younger fleas and flea eggs.
Our trained and experienced flea control experts can identify the flea species that is pestering you and conduct a further inspection of your property to identify any other potential hosts that might be spreading the fleas—such as rats, mice or other rodents in or around your home. Your technician will then recommend the best course of action to eliminate all of the fleas in your home and prevent them from coming back. This could include one treatment or a combination of multiple treatments, depending on the severity of the infestation, the particular flea species and the source of the fleas.
This could also include extermination services for other pests, including mice, rats or other rodents, if they are identified as the primary flea host and the source of the infestation. Your Arrow Exterminators technician will carefully explain all the procedures to you before the treatments start and can answer any questions you have about fleas, flea infestations and how to prevent a future flea problem. They will also explain various things you can do on your own to decrease the risk of getting or spreading fleas in the future.
One of the most common sources of a flea infestation is from a pet. So, many of the preventative steps homeowners can take to reduce the risk of a flea infestation have to do with making sure that their pets do not get fleas and bring them back into the house with them. The first thing you should do is contact your veterinarian about the best flea prevention and control products for pets. All veterinarians will have a flea medication they recommend that you can order through their office or online.
Regular bathing and grooming of your pets will also help to prevent fleas from biting and eliminate any that are currently using your furry friend as a host. You can buy flea shampoo made specifically for pets which kills fleas and soothes pets itchy skin without harming your dog or cat. Many veterinarians will also have recommendations about good flea shampoos. Also make sure to frequently wash and dry any bedding that your pet uses, whether they have a designated doggie bed or just a favorite blanket they like to cuddle with.
For more flea prevention and elimination tips, call the flea control experts at Arrow Exterminators today!
Ask the Entomologist
When they bite you, fleas use an anticoagulant to keep your blood from clotting, so they can get an uninterrupted supply of it. That is what your body is reacting to, which causes the itching after a flea bite. How much do they consume? Well, 72 female fleas can consume 1 ml of blood per day.
Why Arrow Exterminators?
Contact Arrow Exterminators and our flea control experts will help stop the itch. Contact Arrow Exterminators and our flea control experts will eliminate every one of these blood-sucking pests that is bothering you and your family. We know you work hard to keep your home, family and pests safe and we want to help you protect them from these disgusting, disease carrying pests. We can also eliminate fleas from commercial properties of any size. You can count on the Oklahoma flea control experts to meet all your flea elimination needs. At Arrow Exterminators we know how to get rid of these annoying pests and address all your pest control needs. We are always “Aiming to Please” our customers and we want to bring our over 60 years of pest control expertise to work for you. You can schedule a free, no-obligation evaluation on our website or you can call us to talk about your flea problems and schedule a service appointment. You can also reach out to us on social media for more pest prevention tips and tricks. We are on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.