Two fleas entering a home can
become 1 million in just 100 days!
A female flea can consume 15 times her body weight
in blood daily.
There are over 1,000 types of
fleas in the world.
The most common flea you will encounter attacking people and a pet is
the cat flea. This
flea feeds on cats, dogs, and humans, as well
as rodents, chickens and other animals. The dog flea (C. canis) and the human flea (Pulex irritans) are less commonly encountered.
THEY LOOK LIKE?
Adult fleas are about 1/16 to 1/8-inch long, dark
reddish-brown, wingless, hard-bodied (difficult to crush between fingers),
have three pairs of legs (strong legs that enable them to swiftly jump
and are flattened vertically or side to side (bluegill or sunfish-like)
allowing easy movement between the hair, fur or feathers of the host.
through three stages before they become adults (egg, larva, and pupa). It can
take from 30 days to one year to complete this cycle. The immature stages are
most commonly found in areas where the host animal rests and visits
frequently. Although eggs are laid on the animal, they
fall off and land on surfaces like carpets, furniture, pet bedding, etc.
Larvae emerge from the eggs and feed on organic debris and adult flea feces in
the carpet or other surfaces. The adult flea is the only stage routinely found
on the animal. Adult fleas will live 7-10 days. The average female flea will
lay 150 eggs in that time span.
Unlike many other flea species, adult cat fleas remain on their
host. After mating and feeding, adult female fleas lay oval, white eggs. These
smooth eggs easily fall from the host into cracks, crevices, carpet (the
perfect flea environment!), bedding, or lawn
covering. A mature female flea can lay
up to 25 eggs per day for three weeks.Small,
worm-like larvae (1/16 to 3/16 inches long) hatch from the eggs within 48
hours. They are eyeless, legless, and sparsely covered with hairs. The larval
body is translucent white with a dark coloured gut that can be seen through
They feed on adult flea feces, consisting of relatively
undigested blood, which dries and falls from the host's fur. They will also
eat dandruff, skin flakes, and grain particles. Larvae
develop on the ground in areas protected from rainfall, irrigation, and
sunlight, where the relative humidity is at least 70% and the temperature is
70o to-90oF. This stage lasts eight to 24 days, depending on the temperature
immature fleas will eventually spin silken cocoons in which they will develop
(pupate) into adult fleas. Cocoons are sticky, attracting dirt and debris
which will easily camouflage them. Under optimal conditions, new adults are
ready to emerge from their pupal cocoons within two weeks.
They can, however, remain in their cocoons up to 12 months in the absence of a
host or unfavourable climatic conditions.
Vibrations and/or elevated temperature stimulate adults to emerge. This
ability of flea pupae to wait until a host arrives can result in a sudden
increase of adult fleas when they emerge simultaneously from many accumulated
HAPPENS WHEN THEY BITE?
Adult fleas are not only a
nuisance to humans and their pets, but can cause medical problems including flea allergy dermatitis
(FAD), tapeworms, secondary skin irritations and, in extreme cases, anemia.
Although bites are rarely felt, it is the resulting irritation caused by the
flea salivary secretions that varies among individuals. Some may witness a
severe reaction (general rash or inflammation) resulting in secondary
infections caused by scratching the irritated skin area. Others may show no
reaction or irritation acquired after repeated bites over several weeks or
months. Most bites usually found on the ankles and legs
may cause pain lasting a few minutes, hours or days depending on one's
reaction to the bite is the formation of a small, hard,
red, slightly-raised (swollen) itching spot. There is a single puncture
point in the centre of each spot. (Ants and spiders leave two marks when they
bite. Mosquitoes, bees, wasps and bedbugs cause a large swelling or welt). Also, fleas may transmit bubonic plague from rodent to
rodent and from rodent to humans. Oriental rat fleas can transmit murine
typhus (endemic typhus) fever among rats and from rats to humans. Tapeworms
normally infest dogs and cats but may appear in children if parts of infested
fleas are accidentally consumed.
excellent jumpers, leaping vertically up to seven inches and horizontally
thirteen inches. (An equivalent hop for a human would be 250 feet
vertically and 450 feet horizontally)
Carpet is the perfect flea environment!
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TIPS FOR CONTROLLING FLEAS THE NON TOXIC WAY
your pet's access inside your home.
Vacuum on a weekly basis during the year, daily in late summer and early
flea populations increase. Dispose of the filled bags by burning, composting
or sealing in a black plastic bag. Or, place in the freezer for a few days
or in a sunny location outside in a black plastic bag to "cook".
all pet bedding/rugs weekly.
Flea comb your pet regularly. Dip the comb in soapy water.
on a regular basis throughout the year will keep developing flea populations
low by picking up adult and egg-stage fleas.
caused by vacuum cleaners will stimulate new adult fleas to emerge from their
pupal sacs. These new adults will either be exposed on the floor or captured in the next vacuuming.
is not very effective at capturing flea larvae in carpeting because they coil
themselves around the fibres. Vacuuming does, however, pick up the dried blood
that larvae feed on.
vacuum attachments to clean cracks and crevices. Caulk or seal these openings
fleas will be killed when dust in the vacuum bag blocks their breathing
apparatus, but to be sure, you can vacuum up a tablespoon of cornstarch. The
used vacuum bag should be disposed of immediately.
infestations are severe, you may need to supplement vacuuming with
steam-cleaning or other controls.
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