Pest Spotlight: Fleas

Scientific Name: Siphonaptera
Common Names: Flea
Color: Reddish Brown
Weight: Average approx. .19mg – .34mg
Length: Adults range from 1.5mm – 3mm long

FUN FACT: Flea circuses were extremely popular in the nineteenth century. These circuses featured fleas dressed as humans or pulling miniature carts, chariots, or cannons. Fleas were selected to be in circuses based on their jumping abilities. In the insect world, no other jumping capable insect even comes close to jumping as high as the flea.

Fleas are agile, wingless insects with excellent jumping abilities – up to 50 times their body length. They are flattened sideways to enable them to move through their host’s fur or feathers, and have strong claws to prevent themselves from being dislodged.

  • Feeding: Adult fleas feed on the blood of mammals and birds, including you and me. Commonly affecting cats, dogs, rats, bats, mice, and others. Developing larvae feed on the adult flea feces, which contain bits of dried blood. The fecal matter will look like black pepper flakes bunched up in the fur or feathers of the animal affected. Fleas seek a blood meal within two days of becoming an adult.
  • Hibernation: Fleas can survive several months in a vacant homes when their vertebrate hosts are not present. Fleas can be active at any time during the year.
  • Food Sources: Fleas are found on warm-blooded vertebrates: people, cats, dogs, rabbits, rats, bats, mice, and birds to name a few examples.
  • Reproduction: Fleas have four stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult. After each blood meal, females lay four to eight eggs at a time (but 400 to 800 total within her lifetime) on the host animal and/or its bedding. Eggs hatch in about 10 days. The larvae feed on debris found in your pets blanket or sleeping area. It spins a cocoon for the pupae stage and emerges as an adult in as little as a week or even up to a year depending on temperature.

If your pet has fleas, you will need to go on a flea suppression program arranged by a Veterinarian. Remember that only treating the adult fleas on your pet will not successfully eliminate your flea problem.

In order to assist in the removal of fleas in your home, the house should be thoroughly vacuumed to remove larvae, pupae, and food materials. The vacuum bag should be sealed and discarded immediately after vacuuming.

There are products on the market registered for the control of fleas. There are many registered domestic and commercial product like aerosol sprays. When the label direction are followed properly they will effectively kill the insects. A residual spray product needs to be used in the cracks and crevices as well as a registered residual aerosol for the fabric furnishings and any areas that may have flea presence.

Apply the residual spray to all baseboards (apply to the top to allow it to seep behind the baseboards), cracks, and crevices. The fleas will die as they encounter the spray. Depending on the type of product used it will stay effective for varying time periods. Everyone (including animals, fish tanks should be covered) must stay out of the premises for at least four hours (windows can be left open or fans can be on to air out the rooms after the four hour time period) – this allows the spray enough time to dry.

All clothing, bedding, linens and curtains should be washed during the insecticide treatment. This will clean out the adults as well as the eggs from the fabrics or blankets. It is recommended to wash everything – the more thorough the job, the better chances of solving the problem. Putting infested pet blankets and bedding directly in the drier on high heat for a minimum of 30 minutes will kill all stages.

Call Poulin’s first for a program to rid your home of fleas. If you wish to treat your home yourself, then the professionals at Poulin’s would be available to you for the proper products and guidance to rid your home of fleas.

Our customers are always treated like an extension of our family and we are here to help in whatever capacity to rid your home of fleas or any other pest.

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