Fleas in Australia consist of approximately 70-80 species, the most common being cat fleas. Despite its name, (and preference) it is adaptable and is found living on both cats and dogs. Dog fleas are another common species. Occasionally fleas bite humans when desperate for a blood meal to provide protein for egg production. All fleas are blood-sucking parasites and they need a living host in order to survive.
Fleas have no friends. Fleas are parasites of warm blooded animals, particularly dogs and cats. Throughout the ages fleas have made life miserable for both man and beast. Relief is available through the application of modern pest control management technology.
Female fleas lay several hundred eggs during a lifetime. Small, white and smooth, the eggs freely drop off to cause infestation in areas frequented by the host. White, legless larvae hatch and feed on food debris, skin scales and the blood-rich faeces of the adult fleas. About two weeks later, the larvae spin a silken cocoon, pupate and await the vibrations that signify the passing of a prospective host. This may explain why hordes of fleas appear "on cue" when you enter your home after being away on holidays. Nevertheless, fleas can remain in virtual hibernation in the pupal stage for up to a year and still survive. Populations of fleas build up rapidly. With female fleas laying hundreds of eggs, most of which proceed through the larval and pupal stages to adult, and with a spring and early summer life cycle as short as 21 days, a "plague of fleas" is an almost yearly occurrence.
Successful pest control of fleas depends on a variety of factors. To gain effective control of fleas, the following preparations prior to treatment should be made:
- All children & pets should be removed from the areas to be sprayed
- All loose items should be taken away from the floor and ground areas
- The lawns are to be mowed and dry areas to be hosed if it is a hot day. (This is to float the flea eggs to the surface and to help keep the insecticide from evaporating too quickly)
- A thorough vacuuming of the carpet just prior to treatment, paying attention to skirting board areas and underneath furniture & lounge cushions. Vacuum bags to be discarded
- Treat your pets as soon as you can. You will get better results if all flea treatments – environmental and on-animal – are done around the same time
- DO NOT AVOID FLEA INFESTED AREAS AFTER THE PEST CONTROL TREATMENT – YOU WILL REDUCE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE TREATMENT – especially remember the spare room, shed or places where the pet likes to rest
- If you remove the pet, flea problems may appear to be worse – as you become the only potential host
- It is best to treat before the numbers build up. There is no need to go through the discomfort of flea bites.
- Entering vacant houses will stimulate any fleas waiting to hatch. This is especially a problem with vacant rental and holiday houses.
- If you are going on holidays, have a friend stomp through the house/yard several times while you are away, especially on the day of your return – the fleas will hatch and die on the treated surfaces before you return. (You will owe your friend big time.)
A SUCCESSFUL TREATMENT MUST INCLUDE ALL AREAS FREQUENTED BY THE PET
- Indoors – remove toys, clothes etc from the floor. Some insecticides will affect fish. Cover the fish tank and turn off the filter prior to treatment. Remove pets from the area to be treated – return them only after the treatment has dried.
- Treat the pet(s) – advice may be sought from your Veterinarian. The use of soaps or shampoos may reduce the residual action of the treatment.
- Be patient. Even if everything has been done correctly, you will still see newly hatched fleas, usually for several weeks. Do not leave flea infested areas undisturbed – movement hatches fleas
- Do not vacuum for at least seven days after treatment. Place the vacuuming in a bag and put in the bin.
- Leave your pet in the flea infested areas – it will attract the fleas. If the pet is removed from the infested area, fleas will continue to hatch for about six weeks with normal ‘human’ activity. Retreat your pet regularly according to the label of the on-animal flea product.
Sometimes flea treatments appear to be ineffective as small black fleas are seen after the treatment. This is because the pupae are quite resistant to chemicals. Fleas continue to hatch because insecticides cannot penetrate the flea pupal case. Ten fleas can potentially reproduce to 250,000 in only 30 days!
The solution for successful flea control is: treatment of the pet and the pet's environment (if necessary in and outside the house) along with some patience.
Fleas lay eggs on the pet when the host is resting. The white eggs fall off the pet onto the carpet, soil etc. Small blind larvae emerge from the eggs. These larvae move away from the light, burrowing down into the carpet, cracks in floorboards or into the soil. Fleas feed on protein, such as flea droppings of partly digested blood. Fleas moult three times before forming a pupa. The larva changes into the adult in the pupa. The pupa is sticky, so it binds its surrounds to itself, becoming invisible.
In summer, fleas may be ready to hatch from the pupa about 7-14 days after it is formed, however they can remain dormant for up to 18 months. Hatching of the flea from the pupa is triggered by nearby movement, predominantly during warm, moist weather conditions.
After feeding on the host, the engorged female flea is ready to mate and lay eggs – about 24 hours after hatching. She is capable of laying up to 500 eggs (27 per day) over a lifetime which may span several weeks.
EXPECTATION : Fleas will be seen when an area is newly disturbed – such as when people get up in the morning or go outside – but not later in the day in that area. If the treatments are working, fleas will hatch, contact the treated surface (carpet, soil – treated by our company, or pet – treated with on-animal product) and die within a few hours.