Latin: Order Siphonaptera
Household Pets and Rodents
What are Fleas?
Fleas are pests that survive on the blood of warm-blooded hosts like cats, dogs and humans. Their body shape is well designed to survive the environment of living on a furry animal. Its head is surrounded by sharp skikes and the mouths are strong enough to pierce through a hosts skin to suck out the blood. They are also capable of jumping nearly a food in the air vertically so pets may pick up a flea outside and bring it inside.
The most common flea is the cat flea. They are dark brown and when viewed from the side can seem squished. Their strong hind legs help them jump nearly a foot.
Flea’s reproduce abundantly. A single flea can produce up to 20 eggs at a time, and over 500 eggs in their lifetime. Where pets sleep can be a breeding ground for fleas and pupa. There are four stages to the life of a flea, Eggs, Larva, Pupa and Adulthood. In the Pupa stage the fleas can lay dormant for several months until a warm food source is sensed. Adult fleas can also survive for a few months without a meal. This is why it can be hard to eradicate fleas in the home. Once they find a warm spot to lay dormant and pupa even if you have treated your pet they can re-emerge after some time.
How do I identify Fleas?
Fleas are small wingless creatures that are about 2.5 mm long. They are small enough to move through animal fur. Their bodies are reddish brown and shiny. They are capable of jumping long distances and can be hard to see when not looking. Flea eggs, Larvae and Pupa can be found in more secluded places like behind, under or in furniture, pets bedding, cracks in the floor and carpets.
If you spot your animal commonly scratching, this may be a sign that your pet has fleas and is irritated by the bites. If you suspect that your animal has fleas, get a fine tooth comb and look for brown shapes moving on their skin. They are common near the ears and tail in a pet. A sign of fleas will also be the fecal matter, commonly called “flea dirt”. The appearance is like tiny black spots on the skin or fur. If wiped with a wet cloth or tissue the matter will turn the cloth reddish as it is mostly comprised of ingested blog.
Flea bites can leave swollen itchy marks. In some people they can cause allergic reaction or transmit diseases.
How can I get rid of Fleas?
Eradicating adult fleas can be fairly easy, but getting rid of all eggs and larvae is most important for getting rid of an infestation. You will need to thoroughly wash and treat your pet and contact a professional for flea breeding ground identification and eradication. Cleaning your home and vacuuming will help but not fully get rid of the infestation.
The most effective flea prevention is in the home and outside in a yard where pets may play. This can eliminate the ability for fleas to enter the home on your pet.