As we all know, fleas are parasites, feeding directly on humans or other warm blooded animals. Usually you or your pet serve as these “hosts”. A flea can jump 7-8 inches vertically and 14-16 inches horizontally. A skin reaction to a flea bite would be a slightly raised, red, itching spot. Sometimes bleeding does occur.
Due to the flea life cycle many people don’t realize they have a flea problem until they return home from vacation or a move to new premises and are confronted by “hungry fleas”. There are several types of fleas but the most common is the cat flea even on dogs. Fleas are attracted to body heat, vibration, and carbon dioxide exhaled.
HABITS AND BIOLOGY:
There are four distinct stages: eggs, larvae, pupae and adult.
Flea eggs are laid on the host or are deposited on the floor or ground surface. They also are often found in upholstery or pet’s bedding. A female flea will continue to lay a few eggs every day until she has reached up to 200-400 eggs. These eggs will develop into flea larvae from 2 days to several weeks,depending on the temperature and humidity. Flea larvae are active and look like maggots.
The larvae will feed on organic debris, but particularly like to feed on faeces of the adult fleas. This “flea diet” contains undigested blood. They are very difficult to vacuum, becoming entwined in the carpet fibres. The next stage called the pupae will look like a cocoon, also hard to spot. No spray will kill flea pupae.. but a vacuum cleaner can pull them up. Under warm conditions many adult fleas will emerge from this protective cocoon within 7-14 days, longer under less favourable conditions.
This flea cycle from eggs through the adult stage is generally 30-60 days.. It is critical to break the flea cycle as soon as possible. The insect growth regulators do break the cycle, but at the larvae stage.. You have several weeks of the pupae, continuing to hatch out.. so a good residual insecticide is needed to kill the emerging adults. Many times you need to spray the residual insecticide again, because the emerging pupae can be very forceful.
Remember, when the adult flea on the pet lays an egg, it will fall off the hairs in just a few minutes…. it is very similar to them sowing “seeds”. So, areas where the pet sleeps or lies around will have the most eggs. If the pet usually walks through certain paths (either indoors or outdoors), there will also be a substantial amount of eggs scattered in those areas. What this means is that environmental flea control must be spread over the pet’s entire environment, focusing on the areas the pet spends the majority of his or her time.
The average size ranges from 1/12-1/6 inch long, being very small and without wings. Their bodies are narrow if you view it from the sides allowing them for movement in narrow areas. Because their bodies are covered with spines projecting backward, they are difficult to remove by shaking or scratching.
Adults feed on blood, the larvae (looks like a caterpillar) eat “flea diet” consisting of dried blood. The flea bite caused from this feeding by the adults can become inflamed. After the feeding the flea will begin mating.. starting the vicious cycle all over again..
Whenever you see adult fleas crawling on your pet, it is only a symptom of a much larger problem. Current studies indicate that adult fleas account for only 5% of the total flea population in any given situation. Eggs account for 50%, larvae account for about 35%, and the remaining 10% are the pupal cocoons. That means that for every single adult flea living on your dog or cat, there are 10 eggs, 7 larvae, and 2 cocoons.
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