Do not underestimate the power of a tiny flea. These small, acrobatic pests flourish and multiply at a lightening speed, and can quickly turn your home into a breeding ground. A flea infestation can be one of the most distressing and uncomfortable pest control problems to deal with. Here, we explore everything you need to know about preventing – and tackling – a flea infestation.
What are fleas?
Compared to other pests such as rats, mice, and cockroaches, fleas are tiny, but mighty. Measuring between 0.1 to 0.32cm, these small, wingless insects have a tocuticlesicle and feed exclusively on the blood of mammals including dogs, cats, birds and humans.
How do fleas spread?
Pets often pick up fleas outside in nature or from other animals. Dogs and cats can also catch fleas when humans bring the insects into the home on their clothing or shoes, resulting in a stressful pest control situation.
What is the flea life cycle?
Fleas have a short life cycle and only live up to 100 days, which means they multiply quickly. They jump onto your dog or cat and feed on its blood before laying lots of tiny eggs in its fur. One female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day. These eggs drop off your animal deep into your carpet, sofa, bedding and other items in the household. Flea eggs are small but are visible on close inspection. They are smooth and white in colour. Fleas are ready to feed within a day of hatching and begin to suck blood within 10 seconds of landing on a host. In optimum conditions, fleas will grow from egg to adult in around 2 weeks. With all this in mind, its easy to understand how a flea infestation can rapidly take hold in the home.
When is flea season?
In the UK, fleas are most active when the weather warms up in springtime and summer. Fleas thrive in humid conditions (specifically between 50 and 90 percent humidity) and a temperature greater than 70°F. Contrary to popular belief, fleas can still survive in colder weather, but they prefer warm, damp conditions. This is why flea infestations tend to be more prevalent some years rather than others, often when we experience a period of extreme heat followed by lots of rain. The winter cold usually brings some relief from pests and parasites. However, if the weather is not optimal and there is no host for the fleas to feast on, clever flea larvae may be dormant and wait for better conditions to hatch and multiply.
Who is at risk of flea infestation?
Forget myths about fleas only infesting dirty houses. Fleas don’t mind whether your home is sparkling clean or filthy.
What risks do fleas pose to animals and humans?
A flea infestation is one of the most uncomfortable pest control situations you can experience. The bites from these tiny insects can cause severe inflammation of the skin, intense itching and scratching, and even allergic reactions in both animals and humans. Your dog or cat may acquire partial immunity after repeated flea attacks. Humans can experience hypersensitivity to both cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) and dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis) as well as other less common subtypes.
How to prevent a flea infestation in your home
If you own a dog or a cat, you will already be well aware that prevention is always better than cure when it comes to controlling fleas. If you live in a home with a garden, keep the grass mowed short and hedges trimmed back to make the environment less hospitable to fleas. Remember – fleas love long grass but hate sunlight and airflow. Discourage other wildlife and pets from coming into your home and bringing fleas with them. If your pet begins scratching more than usual, it is best to take them to your vet clinic and treat them straight away, to prevent a full-blown flea infestation in your property.
As well as trying to prevent your pet from catching fleas in the first place, you can also avert a potential flea infestation and pest control problem by sweeping and vacuuming regularly. Thoroughly clean your bedding (especially pet bedding) and upholstery such as carpets and curtains on a frequent basis. When you vacuum, make sure to cover concealed areas like baseboards, under furniture and anywhere your pet likes to spend time, as fleas prefer these places to high-traffic areas.
How to get rid of a flea infestation in your home
If you are unfortunate enough to discover a flea infestation in your home, you need to act quickly. The first thing to do is treat your pet with a topical flea treatment to stop the reproductive cycle. Use a powerful vacuum all over your house and consider steam cleaning your property too. Wash all bedding, including pet bedding, at a high temperature.
You may need to invest in insecticides such as an aerosol spray or fogger. Ensure you choose one that contains the right chemicals to kill both adult fleas (permethrin) and the eggs, larvae, and pupae (methoprene or pyriproxyfen).
Remember to adhere to the recommended safety precautions when using these products to tackle the pest control problem yourself. Insecticides are extremely powerful and people and pets should not come into contact with these chemical treatments. Ensure to use gloves when you apply the spray and remove all people (especially children and pets) from the room or house when you do so.
Of course, sometimes, you will need a professional to help you tackle a persistent or acute pest control problem such as a flea infestation. CCS Environmental is one of the most experienced commercial and domestic flea control companies in London. We have helped thousands of customers tackle troublesome flea infestations since 2008. Don’t hesitate to contact us for all your pest control needs.
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