How do I get rid of fleas?

Possibly one of the most annoying enemies of the modern-day pet owner, fleas can be a real nuisance as well as incredibly difficult to get rid of.

Unfortunately, many of us are still wracked with embarrassment to ‘admit’ our homes have fleas and so delay calling in the expert services of a professional pest controller. Shop bought remedies and some natural remedies can sometimes work, but unless you know the lifecycle of the flea, as well as generally being armed with knowledge, you may find that these remedies simply keep the numbers down, rather than freeing you of fleas! Not treating fleas effectively and quickly inevitably means one thing: trouble.

Understanding the flea lifecycle

In order to be rid of fleas from both dogs and cats, as well as your home, you need to break the life cycle of the flea – and then deal effectively with the remnants…

There are 4 stages to the life cycle consisting of eggs, larvae, pupa and adult, with environmental factors such as temperature and humidity contirbuting to the success rate of the cycle. The whole cycle can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months. The optimal temperature for fleas is 21° and 70% humidity.

Freaky flea fact…

A female flea cannot lay eggs until after its first meal; starting within 35 to 48 hours of the initial feed, she will go on to produce over 2,000 eggs in her life time (which is on average 2 to 3 months).

Stage 1: Eggs

The femal adult flea cannot begin to lay eggs until she has consumed her first blood mean from a host (such as your dog or cat or wild rodent in your garden). This blood is nectar to fleas, signaliing they can now reproduce the small white eggs that will cause you and your pet so many problems! You can spot the eggs as they tend to be laid in ‘bunches’ on your pets fur. In one day, an active adult female can lay 50 eggs.

However, this is not the worst of your worries. These eggs fall off the pets to allow for effective dispersal of them through the environment, hence landing on your carpets and other soft furnishings; in any flea infestation within a home, eggs represent about 50% of the population.

With the environmental factors critical to the eggs development, they can hatch at a fast rate  (2 days) or they can take two weeks to mature. Warm temperatures and a higher humidity significantly increases the hatching rate of these eggs – no wonder they love our warm, central heated homs or a nice summers day.

Stage 2: Larvae

True flea fact

They have no wings and move around by jumping

The second stage of the lifecycle is the emergence of the blind larvae; avoiding daylight these tiny things develop over many weeks, eating the ‘dirt’ of adult fleas as they pass by, along with any other kind of organic matter that happens to land near them.

White, almost translucent and legless, they are less than a ¼ inch in length. Again, depending on environmental conditions, they can spin their cocoons within 5 to 20 days from hatching, leading them into the third stage of the life cycle: pupae.

Stage 3: Pupae

This is the final developmental stage of the process before the adult flea emerges. The cocoon protects the pupae for several days, sometimes weeks, before the adult emerges; if the conditions are not right, they can stay in this state for months – or a year!

The outer coating is sticky and they can hide deep within the fibres of a carpet, for example, and so light vacuuming or sweeping does little to remove them. This casing can also protect them from chemicals and neither will they emerge until they sense a potential host nearby – such as carbon dioxide or vibrations from you, your family or pets.

Stage 4: The Flea

And then the lifecycle starts all over again, with the female adult fleas searching for their first meal, rendering them fertile.

If fleas were the size of humans…
… they would break the long jump record by 970 feet!

Effective treatment depends on breaking this cycle

Professional pest controllers understand the life cycle of the flea and can offer quick, effective treatments but there are some hints and tips that you can follow when you first spot the problem…

The number one weapon is your vacuum cleaner!

Many of today’s modern vacuums have exceptional suction power and so vacuuming the affected rooms, along with the furnishing and curtains is a great way to start. Don’t forget to vacuum the pets beds too.

However where many people go wrong is that they leave the contents of the vacuum in it – empty your machine each time you hoover.

But vacuuming alone will not rectify the problem.

Flea fact…
One of the oldest species on earth (they have been here over 100 million years), the new fleas emerging from the safety of their pupae have 7 days to find their first blood meal… or they die.

You will need to treat your home and pets with chemicals known as insecticides. Many people fail to read the instructions correctly and therefore the effectiveness of these treatments are greatly reduced.

It is also important that you treat your home and pets on the same day, as doing one and not the other is a futile exrcise. Any treatment you use in the home needs to combat the eggs, larvae and emerging adults and there are many different treatments available on the market. Many people tend to be miss the less obvious places too – make sure you treate all the nooks and crannies within a room, and don’t forget about under the bed and the sofa and all the cracks under the skirting boards.

But, many people are frustrated to find that within a  couple of weeks they still have fleas so what they think has been a successful treatment of a flea problem in the home, is actually a far cry from a successful home treatment. This is down to fact that in the pupae stage, the flea is not affected by insecticides or water. If you see ‘new’ fleas within a few weeks, you will need to treat your home again and again until the fleas are gone.

Treating your pets

Ensuring your pets are flea-free will be of great benefit to your home, but also to their own comfort. Flea bites, we know as humans, can be itchy and uncomfortable, therfore treating your pet as soon a possible will retore their comfort levels.

Another flea fact…
Female fleas – always bigger than the male – can consume 15 times its own body weight in blood IN A DAY!

The best person to consult for animal flea treatment is your vet, who can recommend the latest in flea treatments.

A common problem?

Any home, business or property can be affected by fleas. Like any pest control problems, calling in the local, professional pest controller is a sure fire way of getting the problem dealt with quickly and effectively. Highly trained pest contollers use commercial grade chemicals combined with their knowledge of successful flea treatments and advise. SOS Pest Control offer a guaranteed flea removal service within one to two treatments, please call us today to discuss.

 

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