Tis the Season of Fleas: What do you know about these pests?
Tonya Tenters, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist
We are coming into the season of summer time fun and PESTS! There is a lot of talk about preventives and what to use, but there is not a lot of talk about the fleas themselves. Sometimes understanding the “enemy” can help you understand how to approach the potential problem.
Fleas are a small but one of the most frustrating pests that we can deal with in our homes and with our pets. What a lot of people do not realize is that most of the flea life cycle does not occur on our pets. When we see those adult fleas, there is already a problem present. A female flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day. This means that one flea can lead to a big problem. The larva stage of the flea life cycle like the cool dark areas in our houses, such as under furniture and near base boards. Then there is the pupa stage. This stage is why it is so difficult to get rid of fleas. This stage is completely impenetrable to any insecticide and can go dormant for long periods of time. Therefore, it can seem like all the fleas are gone and then SURPRISE, you have a whole new batch of fleas. So, now what do you do?
If you have a flea problem, here are some methods to use to help stop that life cycle from continuing. The first thing to do, is to make sure that all animals in the home have been treated. Try to determine the source of the problem. Are the fleas coming from inside the house or outside and being brought in. This means observing your pets. Check them in the morning and after they have gone outside. If they have no fleas in the morning inside, but come from outside and fleas are observed, then the source is likely in the outside environment. In that case, you may need to speak to a pest control officer. If the source is in the house, there are some key things that can be done. First, your vacuum is your best friend! The vacuum’s mechanical functions will destroy the pupa and kill larva, eggs, and fleas picked up. The vibrations can also help get dormant pupa to emerge. Make sure to vacuum regularly under furniture and along baseboards. This is important even on tile, hardwood floors, and laminate.
Your other household appliance that is your friend, is your dryer. Washing all bedding is great, but no one has the time to wash all the bedding more frequently. In that case, through the bedding in the dryer on high heat for 40 minutes. This will also kill the eggs, larva, pupa, and fleas on the bedding. It is less time and effort than washing and drying all of it numerous times.
Be consistent! Knowing the life cycle helps you understand that the whole life cycle needs to be addressed to fix the problem. We all wish there was a bubble that we could put around our animals to make a flea problem non-existent. Since we can’t do that, we will arm ourselves with knowledge and utilize these simple tools to deal with these pests.