Fleas are parasites that feed off of warm-blooded animals and birds. These insects cannot fly, but they do jump a remarkable 150 times their own height. The cat flea is the most common species and feeds off dogs, cats, and humans. Fleas spend about 5% of their time on the host, and the remaining time in the area where the host dwells.
Fleas exist from spring to autumn throughout Warwick and the rest of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas. They also can survive the winter months indoors under ideal conditions.
At 1/12” to 1/6” in size, fleas are among the smallest insects. They are dark reddish brown in color, and are flat. They do not have wings but they do possess antenna. Fleas have spiky hair covering their bodies and strong claws to help them attach to their host. When spotted on socks or on a pet, fleas generally look like a dark dot.
Fleas eat only the blood of their host, and prefer warm-blooded animals like humans, cats, dogs, rodents (especially rats and mice), deer, and birds. Flea larvae feed on the feces of adult fleas, which contain a good amount of dried blood.
Fleas prefer warm climates, and homes and offices are usually ideal. They cannot tolerate extreme cold or extreme heat but do favor warm, humid, shaded areas.
PROBLEMS WITH FLEAS
In addition to the diseases that can be transferred to humans and pets, flea bites can cause painful itching, welts and rashes. The affected individual may develop a rash and excessive scratching may cause skin damage that can lead to a bacterial infection.
A flea infestation can be problematic in that it can be stressful for the people and pets residing within the home, while also being a nuisance and inconvenience.
Adult fleas can lay up to 50 eggs every day. Some female fleas can lay up to 5,000 eggs in their lifetime. Eggs are laid on the host, but many will fall off as the host moves around. Eggs are oval, white, and very small. Larvae will then hatch on the host, in carpeting, between cushions, wherever the host spends a lot of their time. A flea can live to be one year old, and can survive for many months without a blood meal.
Fleas go through four life cycle stages including egg, larva, pupa and adult (imago). An adult must feed on blood before they are able to reproduce.
Along with bites that can cause intense itching and subsequent skin infections, fleas can also spread various bacterial diseases such as plague, cat scratch fever, and murine typhus. Infected pets can develop tapeworms, anemia (low levels of iron), and even allergies (also known as flea allergic dermatitis).
Fleas are tiny but have the capacity to create life-threatening issues in both humans and pets.
SIGNS OF A FLEA INFESTATION
Homeowners might first suspect a flea infestation when a pet begins unusual levels of biting and scratching of their fur. The pet may eventually even develop bald spots from excessive licking and biting, and can develop infections if left untreated. Other signs of a flea infestation include:
• Fleas or flea dirt (feces) is present on the pet’s skin and in their fur. Fleas may jump around but the flea dirt will look like dark spots. Flea eggs may also be present and these look like semi-clear oval dots.
• Fleas are seen jumping around on drapery, on carpeting, on furniture, where the pet sleeps, etc. Walking the area with white colored socks and then inspecting the socks for fleas will also reveal an infestation.
It may be impossible to completely prevent fleas from infesting your home because either pets or humans can easily transport fleas in from other locations. However, following these tips will help in the fight against fleas:
• Keep lawns mowed and hedges, bushes, and other foliage trimmed back. This makes the yard less attractive to fleas because they have fewer places to hide.
• Don’t leave pet bowls filled with food outside, this can attract wildlife like raccoons, opossums, etc., that are not only inherently dangerous themselves, but can also bring fleas to your yard and home.
• Keep foliage trimmed away from structures to avoid safe places for animals (and therefore fleas) to hide.
• Ensure that all openings in garages, decks, crawl spaces, and sheds are sealed to prevent other animals from nesting.
• Maintain regular flea treatments on all pets. Frequently comb through the pet’s fur to detect the presence of fleas.
• Keep a clean home by regularly vacuuming and dusting. Once a week makes for good prevention, but if fleas are spotted, vacuum and dust more often.
• When vacuuming, make sure that all areas are covered including furniture, under furniture, coach and chair cushions, pet sleeping areas, and the car upholstery if the pet often rides in the car.
• Place a flea collar in the vacuum bag to stop fleas from reemerging when the vacuum is turned off. Change bags frequently.
The licensed exterminators at SafeGuard Pest Control LLC. have twenty years of experience ridding Warwick area homes and offices of fleas. This pest is a common infestation and requires proper handling and advanced treatments for successful results.
SafeGuard Pest Control uses only proven methods of treatment for successful flea extermination.