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Flea control for your home.
Only about 10% of the flea population (mainly the adults) are on your pet. The flea eggs, larvae, pupa, and the few adults that reside in the carpeting, bedding, and living areas make up approximately 90% of the flea population.
Treatment involves residual treatment of carpet and fumigation.
Information from University of Nebraska U
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
Integrated Flea Control by Barb Ogg, PhD, Extension Educator
Dogs and cats are at risk of getting fleas… flea infestations usually get started in the summertime, after pets come in contact with infested pets or after they walk in areas where infested animals have spent time…, the most common flea species carried by both cats and dogs is the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis. Compared with other flea species, the cat flea has a very wide host range.
Sometimes petless families have to deal with fleas after a visit to the pet store or after the kids have played with a neighborhood dog or cat. A flea infestation may result, after a flea infested wild animal, like a possom takes up residence in a chimney or crawlspace.
Fleas are small, dark brown insects whose bodies are hardened and compressed from side to side. Fleas do not fly, but have strong hind legs which they use to jump from host to host.
Flea bites are extremely irritating to pets. Large infestations or extreme sensitivity may result in intense itching and weight loss. Fleas have been known to transmit diseases. Fleas on cats and dogs are the intermediate host for Dipylidium caninum, better known as the double-pore tapeworm, which infests dogs, cats and sometimes, humans. Because fleas do not spend their entire life on their host animal, they are nearly always associated with animals that regularly return to the same nesting sites.
Flea Life Cycle
In order to understand all the steps needed to eliminate a flea infestation, it is important to understand the flea life cycle. Adult female and male fleas need a blood meal before mating. The female flea lays 30–50 eggs on the animal each day. She may live 4-25 days. The eggs are not attached to the animal and fall off wherever the animal sleeps or walks. The eggs fall into the carpet, pet bedding or yard.
Indoors, eggs hatch into tiny, light-colored wormlike larvae which live deep among the carpet fibers, in cracks and crevices or pet bedding. Outdoors, flea larvae are most likely found in shady locations, often where animals spend time. Larvae feed on organic matter. After several larval stages, the larva spins a tiny silken cocoon and pupates within it. Adult emergence from the pupa is stimulated by vibration and an increase in carbon dioxide, which indicates a host is present. The newly emerged adult immediately jumps on the host and begins feeding.The entire life cycle usually takes a month or so; time is dependent on temperature and humidity.
Flea control can be challenging because of all the different places that must be treated. The goal of flea control is to eliminate existing adult fleas on pets; then take actions to eliminate larval fleas that develop off the animal.
1. The first action is to treat the animal to kill adult fleas. The newest animal treatments are often prescribed by veterinarians, but some effective older products can now be obtained at pet supply stores. Some products may be purchased on-line. Even if purchased on-line or at a pet supply store, we encourage pet owners to visit with their veterinarian when using animal care products.
What about traditional flea treatments? Flea shampoos and powders cost less than the animal preventative treatments listed above, but they may not be as effective. Shampoos and powders will need to be repeated regularly.
2. The second part of managing fleas is to control the larval stage in the pet’s environment by disrupting the flea life cycle and preventing the recurrence of adult fleas.This step begins by laundering and steam cleaning/vacuuming: Wash pet bedding in hot water to kill flea larvae. If animals sleep with family members, all bedding must be washed. Steam clean or vacuum carpets thoroughly everywhere the infested pet is allowed to roam.
After laundering and vacuuming, it will be necessary to treat with an insect growth regulator (IGR) where pets spend time. Focus on locations where pets:
- go in and out of the house
- sleep and rest
- jump off beds, sofas and chairs
- spend time with family members
When pets spend time outdoors, it may be necessary to treat outdoor areas, especially shady locations. Effective products which effectively control flea larvae with little to no negative impact on human or pet health include insect growth regulators (IGRs).
What About Flea Bombs?
A fogger (or bomb) can be thought of as total-release-aerosol. The insecticide is released into a mist which dissipates in the room. Unfortunately, foggers do not penetrate well in carpets where larval fleas are hiding. In general, they provide poor flea control.
Before a Service
Be prepared to leave your home or apartment during treatment and until insecticide is thoroughly dried. This will be approximately 3 to 5 hours, or the time advised by your pest control operator.
Wash all pet bedding in hot water or destroy it.
Vacuum all carpeting and mop wood and tile floors, including along walls and inside closets.
Clean or vacuum furniture, especially between and under cushions.
Dispose of vacuum cleaner bag in a trash container outside your home, close tightly. If using a vacuum with a re-usable bag, empty contents into container outside your home, close tightly, and discard. Wash reusable bag in hot water.
Remove all pets and have them treated for fleas by a veterinarian. If you plan to treat the animal yourself, it is essential that all label directions be followed and that you use only products specified for the species of animal on which the product is to be used. (See About Veterinary Medicine for more information on this treatment.) It is critical, however, that pets be treated at the same time as the home, so that neither reinfests the other afterward.
Cover fish tanks with wet towels and turn off pumps until reoccupying home.
Pick up all toys and items off floor. This includes picking up items from floors inside closets and under beds.
Strip all bed linens and wash in hot water.
Remove all caged pets (birds, reptiles, hamsters) before service is rendered.
Cover and store any open food products, dishes or utensils before service is rendered.
If the yard also is to be treated, the same steps as directed for in the home must be followed – that is, wash all pet bedding in hot water or destroy it, pick up all toys and items from the lawn and areas to be treated.
Remain out of home until insecticide has dried thoroughly (3 to 5 hours, or as advised by your PCO). It is essential to allow this time and ensure that the home is completely aired out before allowing sensitive individuals, such as small children, or vulnerable pets back into the home.
To give the treatment time to work, do not clean carpet or floors for at least two weeks after treatment.
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