With nearly 2,000 species and subspecies, fleas thrive in warm, humid environments, and feed on the blood of any warm-blooded body. Dogs, cats and even humans are the beloved hosts of the most common species, the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis), whose dark reddish-brown or black body is usually 1/12” - 1/6” in length.
A flea’s complete life cycle ranges anywhere from 16 days to 21 months depending on the environment condition and females can produce 400-500 offspring during her lifetime.Fleas infest both household pets and wild animals like rodents, opossums, raccoons and skunks, and usually remain on their hosts at all times. They can also be found on shoes, pant legs or blankets, which can transfer the fleas to new environments. These pests use their powerful legs to jump as high as 8” vertically and to jump up to 10,000 times in a row. If humans could do this, we would be able to leap over skyscrapers. Their flat body allows for quick movement in an animal’s fur. Fleas are most commonly found on a dog’s abdomen, the base of the tail and the head. With heavy infestations, however, fleas can thrive anywhere on the body. They feed once every day or two, and generally remain on their host during the interim.
When a dog has a heightened sensitivity to the saliva of fleas, just one bite of a flea can cause an allergic reaction. This condition is known as flea allergy dermatitis and causes intense itching and discomfort for your pet. Signs of fleas on pets include droppings or “flea dirt” in the dog’s coat, excessive scratching, licking or biting at the skin, hair loss scabs and hot spots, pale gums and tapeworms.
Fleas are the most common transmitter of the rare bubonic plague. They also transmit the bacterial disease murine typhus to humans through infected rats. Their saliva can cause serious flea allergy dermatitis in pets and their debris has been reported to cause similar allergic reactions in humans. Fleas can also transfer tapeworms and cause anemia in pets, which is why active flea management is an important component of pet care. Flea bites commonly cause painful, itchy red bumps.
If you own a cat or dog, pay close attention to their fur when grooming them. If fleas are spotted, be sure to take your pet to the vet for professional treatment and medication, as cat fleas can often lead to worms in both cats and dogs. Your veterinarian can also determine the best plan for preventing fleas in the future.
To address a flea problem, professional pest control services will use products that treat fleas in all stages of life. In addition, a follow-up treatment is typically conducted two weeks after the initial treatment to ensure that those fleas that were not killed the first time are terminated. Homeowners are also asked to vacuum their carpet and upholstery before and after treatment to stimulate mature fleas to emerge from their pupa and quickly die. The bag and the vacuum should then be removed from the home and cleaned, as fleas can escape from the vacuum and re-enter the home.
Professional pest control services will also treat the yard, as well as entry points to the home, to decrease the likelihood that fleas will enter the home again. It is a thorough process that requires diligence on the homeowner’s part, but one that results in very few recurring problems. And when your home and your pets are involved, that is the best possible scenario.
Professional Flea Removal Service
If you have a flea infestation in and around your home, it is important to hire a flea control professional. Contact Skyline today so we can assist in protecting your family and pets from these pesky parasites.