Fleas exist from spring to autumn throughout the Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas. And can also survive the winter months indoors under ideal conditions.
Fleas are prolific insects with over 2,500 different species in the world. The most common of these species is the cat flea, along with human, dog, and sand fleas. They can jump 150 times their own height, clearing eight feet. Fleas are parasitic creatures that feed on the blood of their host.
Fleas are flat and hairy with reddish brown bodies and three sets of legs. They may also be brownish black or even pale yellow, depending on the species. At 1/8” long, they are approximately the height of two quarters stacked together. They do not have any wings, but instead use their powerful hind legs to jump. Their mouths are equipped with a proboscis to pierce the skin of their host and suck their blood.
Any warm-blooded mammal or bird can fall prey to fleas. However, they prefer the blood of rodents, cats, dogs, and humans. Fleas can live for six months without feeding. Fleas are parasitic, which means they require a host for survival.
Fleas only need a warm-blooded host, and protection from winter weather to survive. This means that they can live inside buildings and flourish undetected on rodents or even nearby wildlife, and then find their way inside. People who do not have animals can still have a flea problem because of the flea’s expert concealment abilities. Humans make excellent hosts, and fleas can live on clothing, in carpeting, in bedding and furniture when they are not feeding.
PROBLEMS WITH FLEAS
In addition to carrying disease, fleas bite and cause extreme discomfort and itching for the host, whether it is a human, cat, dog or other type of animal. They can cause stress for the homeowner in trying to eradicate them, and are not only an inconvenience but are also unsanitary.
Fleas go through four different life cycle stages which include egg, larva, pupa and adult (imago). About half of all fleas in existence are eggs, with only 5% being adults. A female flea can lay up to 5,000 eggs in her lifetime. Fleas live to be about two to three months old, but can live to be as old as one and a half years given the right conditions. These conditions include the right food supply and temperature. A new adult flea must feed before it has the capability to reproduce.
Fleas are known disease transmitters. They were responsible for the spread of the Bubonic Plague back in the 1300’s. Most humans are allergic to the flea’s saliva, causing redness, bumps, and itching when bitten. Dogs and cats can develop flea bite allergy and anemia, both of which are severe issues. Fleas are also capable of infecting animals with tapeworms. There have been some rare occurrences when children were also infected with tapeworms. Murine Typhus, a bacterial disease, can be transmitted to humans through flea-infected rats. Cat scratch disease is also a problem for humans with infected cats.
SIGNS OF A FLEA INFESTATION
A flea infestation may or may not be obvious. The first thing to notice is if a pet is licking, scratching, or biting their fur constantly. If this is the case, then thoroughly examine the pet’s skin and fur. The pet might be experiencing some fur loss, and also redness of the skin. Pulling back the fur to look at the skin, take note of tiny black spots that move (the fleas themselves), and/or small white ovals which are the eggs. Flea droppings (which are reddish in color) might also be present. This is also known as flea dirt. Running a flea comb through the fur will trap any fleas or eggs in the tines. Submersing the flea comb in soapy water will drown the captured fleas.
Fleas in a home or office can be detected by examining furniture, draperies, and bedding. Fleas are small but they are not invisible and can be easily seen when they jump in large numbers. Carpeting, floor mats, etc., can be inspected by wearing white socks and walking in areas suspected of flea infestation. Examine the socks carefully for fleas and drown them immediately in soapy water.
While it might be next to impossible to completely secure a home or office against a flea infestation, there are some steps to take for prevention. These include:
• Vacuum carpets frequently and keep all floors and areas clean.
• Give pets frequent baths with pet shampoos that serve as tick and flea treatments.
• Take pets to annual veterinary checkups to be sure they aren’t infested with fleas.
• Keep the lawn mowed and free of pet droppings.
• Keep the garage clean and free of pet droppings.
• Vacuum upholstery often including furniture and draperies.
• Keep rodents off the property by filling foundation cracks, etc.
• Keep pets leashed when outside to prevent them from wandering into areas that might be flea-ridden.
Fleas can be especially difficult to eradicate due to the overwhelming population numbers they can reach. Homes and businesses that are infested with fleas must be professionally treated if complete eradication is desired.
SafeGuard Pest Control uses only proven methods of treatment for successful flea extermination.
SafeGuard Pest Control, LLC has been serving Yardley area homes and businesses for over 20 years. Our trained technicians will provide accurate species identification, identify entry points, and implement the best treatment methods for the specific situation to ensure complete eradication.