How Do Fleas Travel From Place To Place?
They itch hike!
On a more serious note.. It’s about that time for our sweet southern partners to make their yearly come back. You guessed it – Flea and Tick season is well on it’s way! ( Mosquitoes too! ) You may be asking yourself the routine questions as these little suckers begin their return;
“Have my pets had their prevention?”,
“Do I need to spray my house/yard?”,
And the golden question we always hear about fleas..
“Where are they coming from and why do they keep coming back?!”
In order to understand how those nifty suckers get around so quickly and discreetly, we have to begin with their life cycle.
Fun Fact: Did you know that about 5% of the flea population is the adult? YIKES!!
The eggs, larva and pupa stages are much more numerous!
The Life Cycle.
Here’s how it works:
- The start of the life cycle happens when an adult female flea lays eggs from the host after a blood meal (your pet). Blood is needed for the adult flea to reproduce. These eggs are white objects, smaller than a grain of sand, laid in the pets fur in clusters of about 20. A single female adult can lay up to 40 in a single day. Gross! Although some eggs will stay and hatch in the pets hair, most will fall off of your pet as he/she moves around where they spend their time. Eggs take up an estimated 50% of the entire flea population present in an average home. They hatch within 2 to 2 weeks, only emerging when environmental conditions are just right. When temperatures are warm and humidity levels are high, the eggs hatch at a faster rate. So for our Southern friends, this is why they thrive down here!
- Next, we see the Larvae. They develop over several weeks, avoiding light and living off of eating pre-digested blood (known as flea “dirt”) that adult fleas pass, along with other organic debris in the environment. Double Gross! Larvae make up about 35% of the flea population in the average household. If the environmental condition is hot and humid (which it most commonly is in the south), 5 to 20 days after hatching, feeding, and growing, the Larvae will spin a cocoon and enter the Pupa Stage.
- Pupa (the cocoon), accounts for only 10% of the average household flea population. This step in the cycle houses the adult flea until environmental conditions are best for the survival of the adult flea. In the Louisiana environment, the pupa can live up to 6 months! The pupa is the toughest part of the flea life cycle because it has a thick outer-coating that not only allows them to hide but to protect them from chemicals such as prevention medication for your pet or pesticides. This is why environmental control is so important in eliminating a flea infestation (or preventing it!).
- Lastly, we have the Adult stage. Once a flea has emerged from the cocoon, it will need to begin feeding from a host within a few hours. Shortly after the first meal, adult fleas will breed and begin laying eggs within a few days. Female fleas are not able to lay eggs until they obtain a blood meal. Adult fleas account for less than 5% of the entire flea population in a home. They spend the majority of their time living on the host while they feed, breed, and lay eggs, and can live anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months on the host animal.
Fleas can be difficult to remove, but if you are careful and using the right chemicals in a safe and successful manner, you will be successful in maintaining a flea free home! Just be sure to treat all the areas where your pet spends time, including the car and yard.There are new preventatives coming to the market all of the time and some of theme are great!! Just ask if you have questions about a certain product you have heard about and we can go over what option may work best for you and your furry friend.
All Pets in a household regardless of being indoors or outdoors should be on flea prevention.
Environmental Flea Control
This is a great product that will aid in drying out the larvae and adult fleas. It is statically charged to stick to carpet fibers and will not be removed with vacuuming. FleaBusters is a desiccant or drying agent that can be safely used in your home. Look at www.FleaBusters.com for more information. This product should be used in dark or covered spaces as this is where fleas like to congregate most.
- Vacuum Cleaners
Daily vacuuming is very important as the heat and vibration will stimulate the pupa to hatch allowing our flea preventions and household cleaners to be effective. Unfortunately, the pupa is very hardy and no product on the market will kill the pupa! After cleaning, recommend cleaning the inside of the vacuum and other parts with Dawn/detergent solution. Discard bag (if using a bagged machine) securely in outside trash to avoid fleas escaping back into the household.
Fleas and larva like to live in the cool shadows, clean under that couch and coffee table!! They will not be high in numbers in the path of foot traffic.
- Yard Control
Over the Counter Insecticide Products:
Look for products containing the active ingredients fipronil or imidacloprid. These products are often labeled for fire ant control and can be purchased at HomeDepot or Lowes to kill adult fleas within the yard. Follow directions on back of bag for proper application. Target areas of shade and where leaves/debris pile up (base of trees, flower beds, along fences lines). Typically fleas, eggs, and pupa will not be in the middle of the yard – they like shade and moisture.
Local Pesticide Service:
Contact your local pesticide service for further options to help alleviate fleas within the yard. They can give great options that are not only effective but also pet-friendly!