Summer is just around the corner, which means your pets and home may soon be plagued with fleas. Your home can become infested with fleas even if you have no pets in the household, since human clothing, rodents, and other vectors can introduce fleas to your indoor spaces. Here are three facts to help you fight fleas this summer.
- Fleas Grow in Four Life Stages
To fully eradicate fleas, you must understand their life cycles, which run from eggs to larvae to pupae to adult. Starting from the egg-laying stage, an adult female feeds on her host’s blood until she’s stuffed. After her blood meal, she lays her tiny eggs on the host animal’s fur as the pet rests.
Flea eggs aren’t like lice nits or other sticky eggs. The microscopic eggs fall down into the crevices of soft materials including animal bedding. Female fleas lay eggs that land in the following spots indoors:
- Fabric floor coverings
- Furniture upholstery
- Bedding, including sheets and covers
Out of the eggs hatch 3/16-inch long larvae that have no legs, sight, or color. The minuscule white larvae avoid bright light and wiggle about to find digested blood in old adult fecal matter scattered in the animal bedding or carpet.
After 8 to 15 days, larvae enter their third life stage, when the flea larvae graduate to pupae that spin cocoons. The fleas use debris to camouflage their silken cocoons.
In the fourth adult stage, the fleas emerge from the cocoons. From the time a flea egg is laid until the larvae becomes an adult flea is around 18 days.
- Fleas Like It Hot
Flea populations explode in summer because flea larvae get a development boost from high temperatures. For robust growth and survival, flea larvae need a sheltered spot with air temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity of at least 75 percent.
Adult fleas leave their cocoons due to the following triggers:
- Warmth from humans and animals
- Pressure from hosts stepping on and lying on cocoons
- Carbon dioxide from human and pet breath
When temperatures are below the optimum level for larval development, some fleas can go into a sort of suspended animation and remain in their cocoons for up to one year.
- Several Flea Control Treatments Are Required
When a home is infested, the fleas can be in all stages of development. Experts advise homeowners to vacuum carpets, upholstery, and drapery often to suck up flea eggs. However, the pressure of the vacuum cleaner can also trigger adult fleas to leave their cocoons and go onto people and pets.
The best method to manage flea infestations is to view the problem with a long-range strategy. Integrated pest management (IPM) is a technique to combat pests, including fleas, with a multi-disciplined approach.
IPM strategies to combat fleas can include:
- Schedule veterinary treatment of pets for flea issues.
- Use on-animal flea control products as directed.
- Bathe and comb animals to kill and remove fleas.
- Vacuum carpets and fabrics daily, then close and discard vacuum bags.
- Wash and dry all animal bedding, toys, and other fabric items weekly.
- Clean up damp areas, clutter, and humidity in the home.
- Schedule a pest control professional to handle the eradication of the fleas
Avoid spraying flea killers or spreading insecticides, including boric acid, around your home. Many retail flea-control products are hazardous to humans and pets. Instead, contact your pest control company to schedule professional flea extermination treatments.
Your pest control professional has access to products that treat all levels of flea development. However, be prepared for a program that includes more than one visit from the pest control company to completely eradicate your flea issue. Since flea cocoons hatch in stages, your flea treatments must be administered in stages to exterminate all of the fleas.
Whether your Chicago-area home is already hopping with fleas, or you want professional advice on how to keep fleas out of your home, contact A-Alert Exterminating Service Inc to schedule friendly, reliable flea-control services.