Fleas are small, wingless insects with a tough cuticle bearing many bristles and frequently combs of broad, flattened spines. The compressed body enables them to move swiftly through hairs or feathers of the host, while the backwardly projecting spines or combs serve to anchor them within fur, hair, or feathers of birds, rodents and mammals. The adult fleas are about the size of a sesame seed (0.1 to 0.32 cm) and feeds exclusively on the blood of mammals (including humans) and birds.
Fleas pass through four life stages which involve the egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Female fleas need blood meals for their eggs to develop. They reproduce rapidly laying up to 25 to 40 pearly white eggs per day on a pet, the pet’s bedding or in cracks in the floor. The eggs laid on a pet fall to the ground and hatch into larvae in about a week. The larva is small and legless and feeds on organic debris, such as dried excrement, dried bits of skin, dead mites, or dried blood found in the host’s nest. The complete life cycle from egg to adult takes 21 to 28 days. Some species can enter an arrested state of development and will not emerge as an adult until a host is present. Depending upon the species or environmental conditions, the time required for a complete life cycle varies from two weeks to several months.
Where do Fleas harbour?
Indoor: Flea larvae and pupae are generally found in the areas where your pets hang out and sleep- pet beds, carpets, upholstered furniture, and your bedding if your pet shares it with you.
Outdoor: Even outdoors you will typically find fleas where your pets hang out and sleep as well. You will also find them in the moist, shaded soil under shrubs.
Flea infestation Identification
Flea bites can be one symptom of flea infestation in your home. Although fleas usually bite dogs and cats, they may also bite people. Bites can be very irritating, both to pets and people alike. Cat flea bites are very annoying to humans. Chemicals in flea saliva trigger an immune response that causes itching. Sometimes insects and other bites can feel and look very similar, so it is very important to know if you have bitten by a flea or not?
- Did you see what bit you? If not, first look for confirmation of fleas – on you, your furniture, or your pets
- Bites may appear as small, red bumps
- A red “halo” around the bite centre may be found
- Bites can be in clusters of three or four, or in a straight line
- Flea bites often appear around the ankles or legs, waist, armpits, breasts, or in the folds of the elbows and knees
Flea Bite Symptoms*
- Bites are usually itchy and often red
- They may even become sore or painful
- Some people are more sensitive to flea bites and may even develop hives or a rash near the bite
*symptoms can vary from person to person & be similar to other insect bites or rashes.
Flea Bite Treatment
- Avoid scratching the bites, which could cause infections and further irritation
- Over-the-counter anti-itch creams and antihistamine medications can be applied to the bite site
- Flea bites will heal on their own if left alone
- And of course, seek the advice of your doctor if symptoms continue
Steps to getting rid of fleas inside house
1) Treat your pets
Most of the times pets are a source of flea infestations in homes. Your cat or dog can catch fleas while running around the yard, or from other animals. The first step is always treating the source of the problem as soon as possible. Combing your pet can be effective, paying extra attention to the neck and tail since these are a flea’s favourite areas. Drop any fleas you comb off into hot soapy water to kill them. Also speak with your veterinarian about flea control services for your pet. They will be able to recommend the best treatment for the type of fleas you have. The important thing is that you or your veterinarian effectively apply these treatments on a regular basis.
2) House cleaning and regular vacuuming
Next, pick up all of the stray items from all carpeted areas of your home. This includes clothes, toys, shoes, boxes, papers, etc. You want as much carpet surface to be accessible to your vacuum as possible. Vacuum pet bedding, carpets, floors and upholstered furniture every day for several weeks. Throw away the vacuum cleaner bag after each cleaning so the fleas can’t climb. If you have a serious flea invasion, have your carpets steam cleaned. The heat will kill the fleas, but it may not kill all the eggs. They may hatch later, and you may have to steam clean again.
3) Wash Bedding in Hot, Soapy Water
Hot, soapy water kills fleas. If you have mild or light flea infestations, washing the pet bedding thoroughly in hot, soapy water every week for at least one month is necessary for killing fleas and destroying their eggs and larvae. If your pets sleep in your bed or with your kids, make sure to wash everyone else’s bedding, too. For heavy flea infestations, it is best to destroy and discard all pet bedding. Also wash blankets, throw rugs, curtains or other washable things that could be tainted by flea eggs and larvae
4) Treat your yard
Heavily shaded areas, decks, under porches, under crawl spaces, in thick shrubbery and sheltered enclosures such as dog houses are a source of heavy infestation of fleas in the yards. The larvae survive and thrive well in these areas in the yard. Spruce up your backyard. Keep your lawn trimmed, rake up fallen leaves and dead weeds, and clean out areas under porches and decks. Remove low-hanging branches and brush to open up more of your yard to sunlight. This will lower the population of fleas significantly. Then, apply a commercial yard product, Hawkeye Flea, Ant and Roach spray, as indicated. Apply it underneath decks, porches, crawl spaces, shrubs and bushes.
How to check flea population in the yard?
A simple test is to put on a pair of long, white socks that go up to your knee. Walk around your yard slowly, especially under decks, around vegetation and anywhere your pets like to sleep or rest. As you walk the yard, the fleas will jump onto your socks where they will be easily identified. Do this a few times during the week at different times of day to get a good picture of the flea population (if any).
Under heavy infestation a good chemical treatment is necessary to knock down the flea population faster. Hawkeye Flea, Ant, & Roach Spray control the high population of fleas in and around homes effectively. Treatment should always be done according to directions to use on the label or on our website.
It is advisable to treat your home and yard for fleas on the same day, as well as having your pet groomed to ensure the source of the infestation has been eliminated. Daily vacuuming for 2-3 weeks following the treatment will ensure that hidden flea eggs do not create a new infestation. Also, make sure after vacuuming that you empty the contents and remove them from the house, so the fleas don’t just escape back into your home.
Interesting facts about fleas
- Fleas can survive months without feeding
- Fleas are able to leap horizontal or vertical distances 200 times their body length and to develop an acceleration of 200 gravities, they have been described as insects that fly with their legs.