FleasApril Pest of the Month.

Fleas

What are Fleas & What Causes Them?

Fleas are annoying parasites which means they cannot live without a host; they feed on animal and human blood. Fleas can cause mild to severe itching. Fleas are often hard to eliminate and they are found everywhere in the world from yards, grass, sidewalks, parks, in homes and on animals; any animal that goes outside can pick up the occasional flea and sometimes they jump on humans.

There is truly no cause for fleas except they have been in our environment for a very long time! Don't let a flea problem go on or unnoticed ... They can lead to skin problems, infections, cause anemia (in extreme circumstances). Fleas are also a way for diseases, tapeworms and the like to be transferred to your pet (Pet Well Being). Fleas can jump a long way and can breed quick making them a lot harder to get rid of in your home or off your pet!

Jump to section: Appearance | Symptoms | Habitat | Life Cycle | Treatment | More Information

Also see our other April Pest of the Month: Ants

General Appearance

FleasAbout 5% of the flea population consists of adult fleas that live on animals; the other 95% consists of eggs and fleas in the larval & pupa stages (Pet Well Being). Adult fleas will try and stay on the host most of the time and when a flea lays their eggs they will fall off the animal and the eggs will be found in areas where the animal spends most of the time. Fleas will be worse in 2015 than past years due to a mild winter; there were not enough cold freezes to kill flea larvae. Fleas survive and multiply at higher temperatures and have to have at least 70 - 90 degree weather to survive. Lower temperatures can completely disrupt the flea life cycle and freezing weather kills flea larvae.

There are over 2,000 flea species worldwide and here are the most common:

  • The cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is one of the most abundant and widespread flea species on Earth. This is the most common flea found in the United States.
  • The dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) is most commonly found in Europe.
  • The human flea (Pulex irritans) is said to have originated in South America.
  • The moorhen flea (Dasypsyllus gallinulae) is a widespread flea throughout the world and originated in South America.
  • The northern rat flea (Nosopsyllus fasciatus) originated in Europe and has made its way throughout the world living on domestic rats and house mice for the most part.
  • The oriental rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) also known as the tropical rat flea can spread the bubonic plague and murine typhus.

Flea Facts:

  • Fleas are not only annoying for humans and pets but can also cause anemia (in extreme cases) and transmit tapeworms, the bubonic plague, typhus and other diseases to pets and humans.
  • Fleas can produce up to 30 eggs a day.
  • Fleas can live on rabbits, mice, rats, ferrets, gerbils, possums, hedgehogs and anything that breathes.
  • Certain fleas are not visible to the naked eye.
  • Fleas can survive for months after the warm season.
  • Fleas are small, general 1/16th of an inch long.
  • Fleas are dark in color having a reddish-brown tint and don't have wings.
  • Fleas are flat from side to side making it easy to move through the host's body/hair.
  • Some fleas can lay over 500 eggs over several months by laying batches of 3 - 18 eggs at a time.
  • Fleas can jump as high as 7 to 8 inches high and 14 to 16 inches forward.

Also see our April 2015 eNewsletter: Ants Go Marching! or listen to recorded radio interviews with Roy Crain Jr. discussing Fleas.

Symptoms

  • Excessive itching and skin irritation.
  • Small black dots (flea feces) on a dog's coat.
  • Possible sighting on fleas on the lower back, neck and tail of an animal.
  • If a pet has been gone from an owner for long period of time, fleas will begin to bit humans. Flea bites often occur around the waist, ankles, armpits and bend of the elbows and knees.
  • In humans some signs are hives, a rash with small bumps that itch and may bleed and swelling around a sore or injury.

Habitat

  • Fleas are most abundant during humid and rainy days.
  • Pets such as dogs and cats and other animals/pests such as a mouse or squirrel.
  • "Possums are the flea condo of the world" - Roy at Live Oak Pest Control.
  • Fleas commonly live in animal burrows, bird nests and anywhere where an animal is present.
  • Wooded areas around the home.

Also see our April 2015 eNewsletter: Ants Go Marching! or listen to recorded radio interviews with Roy Crain Jr. discussing Fleas.

Life Cycle

FleasFleas go through 4 stages during its life cycle; egg stage, larvae stage, pupa stage and adult stage. The entire flea life cycle can be completed in as little as two months or as long as two years.

Flea Egg Stage: eggs are laid onto the host by adult female fleas. The eggs then fall off the host into the environment where they will hatch out as flea larvae.

Flea Larvae Stage: larvae are small (about 5mm long) and feed on the debris from the host as well as flea dirt. Larvae feed on flea dirt because it is high in protein and isn't completely digested by the adult flea. Flea larvae are not generally seen because they try and live as deep as possible. When they mature they spin into a cocoon like a caterpillar does to form the pupa stage.

Flea Pupa Stage: this stage is the main culprit of flea problems and cannot be eradicated in this stage because treatments will not reach the pupae. Flea pupa can remain dormant up to 9 months. This is the transition (last) stage before a flea becomes an adult. Adult fleas can emerge from the cocoon as early as 3 to 5 days or stay dormant waiting for the right time to come out. Things such as ambient temperatures, high humidity and vibrations and carbon dioxide emitted by passing animals can cause the flea to emerge from the cocoon faster.

The pupa stage is why "vacant" homes have flea issues even though they have been "vacant" for 5 or 6 months.

Adult Flea Stage: adult fleas are very flat; side to side. As soon as the flea leaves the pupa stage and enters the adult stage they immediately look for food (often they hatch from the pupa stage into adults due to a viable host walking by). Fleas have 3 pairs of legs and the back most legs are designed for jumping. They have hair-like bristles that help them navigate through animal hair.

Treatment

FleasFlea season has just begun and Live Oak Pest Control has already had more service calls for fleas more than in the previous two yars due to a mild winter; we didn't have enough hard freezes to kill the flea larvae.

Flea problems and infestations generate the most calls for Live Oak Pest Control because they are difficult to get rid of. Some of our customers use over the counter products to eradicate fleas but even with the best OTC products it can be a daunting task, so they call the experts; Live Oak Pest Control.

Flea treatments by Live Oak Pest Control are completed on an as needed basis. Our treatments start with a minimum of two flea treatment applications scheduled 7 - 10 days apart. From there we will repeat the application as needed; scheduled again 7 - 10 days apart depending on the level of flea infestation. On many occasions two applications take care of the flea problem. In extreme cases, it has taken 6 - 7 treatments to eliminate fleas due to major infestations within the structure as a result of flea pupae building up over many years.

Our products work to eliminate fleas it just takes time to eliminate because of their life cycle. We can discuss more service options depending on the severity and size of the problem.

We have several flea treatment options to choose from; give us a call today at (386) 362-3887 if you are experiencing a flea infestation and to discuss treatment options.

Also see our April 2015 eNewsletter: Ants Go Marching! or listen to recorded radio interviews with Roy Crain Jr. discussing Fleas.

Also see our other April Pest of the Month: Ants

More Information

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