What do fleas look like?
Adult fleas are normally 1-4mm long, brownish in cooler, without wings, but with powerful legs adapted for jumping. Female fleas can live up to two years, during which time they can lay up to 1000 eggs.
Where do they live?
Adult fleas live exclusively as parasites in warm-blooded animals. The females lay their eggs after feeding on the infested animal. The eggs drop to the floor and animals bedding. After several days the eggs will develop into larvae. After two to three weeks their larvae will be fully developed. The larvae will then spin a cocoon where it will spend a further two to three weeks before emerging as an adult flea.
What do they eat?
Larvae feed on debris and adult flea droppings. Adult fleas feed solely on vertebrate blood.
What are the signs of infestation?
You will probably first become alerted to the fact that your pet may have fleas by its constant scratching. Your suspicion can then be confirmed either by seeing fleas or flea droppings in the coat. Flea droppings are small black specks mainly composed of dried blood, and they are usually seen in clusters lying next to the skin. They are easy to spot in light coloured animals by brushing back the hair. In dark coated breeds it may be better to comb the animal over a sheet of paper onto which any flea droppings will then fall. The identity of the black speak may be confirmed by adding a few drops of water - if they turn red, your pet has fleas.
Bites on you or family members - in humans, flea bites can produce an allergic reaction. The typical symptom of a flea bite is a small red spot 5mm or so in diameter. In sensitive individuals, however, the response can be worse and the bite intensely itchy.
Seek professional assistance.
Are fleas a health hazard?
In this part of Europe there is little evidence to suggest that fleas transmit any serious illness to humans. However, flea bites can cause skin irritation and distress. If in doubt, contact your GP for advice.
How did I get fleas?
In most situations a flea problem in the home, is caused by the cat flea. These are the most common fleas found today, followed by the dog flea. (The human flea is extremely rare). Fleas can be carried into the home by an animal or a person.
What can I do to make the treatment successful?
First, clear as much floor space as possible, to ensure that treatment is as thorough as possible.
Vacuuming all areas helps to remove any debris, eggs, larvae and adult fleas. The vibration of the vacuum cleaner also helps to stimulate adults to hatch from their cocoon stage. Pay particular attention to areas where your pet may sleep.
Remember to remove the waste collection bag or cylinder, from the vacuum cleaner, and to dispose of it an outside bin as you may have collected eggs, larvae and adult fleas while cleaning.
The treatment for infested premises is the application of a residual liquid spray insecticide, the insecticide is applied to all floor surfaces. These areas are not to be vacuumed or washed for at least 14 days after the treatment.
Although new adult fleas may still be emerging up to two weeks after treatment, there should still be sufficient insecticide present to kill them off.
In order to achieve effective control, pets must also be treated with a product approved for veterinary use. We never apply insecticides directly onto pets. Pet's Bedding should be thoroughly washed at a high enough temperature to kill off all stages of the flea's development.
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Image supplied with kind permission of Killgerm Group Ltd
Steve Pratt Pest Control Ltd