I have to admit, even though I am in the business of eliminating and preventing nuisance insects, the thought of a flea biting makes my skin crawl. I am sure I am not alone in the disgust most people experience at the sheer mention of a flea infestation. Unlike other nuisance insects, fleas can take over the interior of your home very quickly. Fleas can be very hard to control because they have the ability to acclimate themselves so easily. The flea will reproduce in the rugs, carpets and other plush items in your home. In severe infestations treating fleas at just one part of the life cycle is not enough to gain control over this tiny pest.
Don’t let he small size fool you, fleas are a nuisance that can make your pet very sick.
Fleas are difficult to control because of their four-stage life cycle. If you have ever stood with your pet awaiting the arrival of the doctor inside the veterinarian practice you may have noticed a flea life-cycle diagram or chart on display within the examination room. Chances are you never really gave the chart a second thought, but learning about the flea’s life cycle will help you better understand what is involved in eliminating them. There are four stages in the life cycle of a flea: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Depending on the environmental temperature and humidity levels, the total life cycle will take anywhere from a couple of weeks to many months.
The beginning of the flea’s life cycle occurs when an adult female flea lays eggs following a blood meal from a host. The blood host could be you, or your pet. Just like the female mosquito, blood is necessary for the adult flea to reproduce. These eggs are small, white objects just slightly bigger than a grain of salt that are laid in the pet’s fur in bunches of about 20. A single adult female can lay about 50 eggs every day. The flea eggs will then fall off your pet as they move, allowing them to be disbursed throughout the environment where your pet spends his or her time. Eggs are often disbursed throughout the carpets and pet bedding in your home, as well as in your yard. Flea eggs can represent about 50% of the entire flea population present in your home or lawn at any given time.
Eggs take anywhere from two days to two weeks to develop, hatching when conditions are right for them. If temperatures are cold and dry, the eggs will take longer. If temperatures are warm and humidity levels are high, the eggs will hatch at a faster rate. The heat and humidity of summer represent perfect egg hatching conditions. Larvae then emerge from the egg as the next life stage of the flea continues…
As the larvae emerge they are blind and will avoid being out in the light. Flea larvae develops over several weeks by eating pre-digested blood (commonly referred to as “flea dirt”), that adult fleas pass and by eating other organic debris in the environment. Flea dirt is visible to the naked eye and can often be seen on the skin of your pet at the base of the fur. Flea dirt looks just like dirt and is often mistaken for just that. Flea larvae are about a quarter of an inch long and are almost transparent. Larvae also have no legs. In some respects the larvae resemble the appearance of a maggot. Larvae make up about 60% of the flea population in the environment. If conditions are favorable, the larvae will spin cocoons in about 5-20 days of hatching from their eggs. This leads to the next life stage, called the cocoon or pupae stage.
This stage of the flea’s life cycle accounts for less than 10% of the flea population in your household and yard during an infestation. The pupae, or cocoon stage is the last developmental stage before the adult flea emerges. The cocoon protects the pupae for several days or weeks before the adult flea emerges. In some cases the cocoon can protect the developing flea for months, and even years in some cases.
The cocoon has a sticky outer coating allowing them to hide deep in your carpeting and not be easily removed by light vacuuming or sweeping. The pupae, stage is nearly impossible to eliminate because you can’t kill pupae when you vacuum! The vibration caused by the vacuum will actually stimulate the pupae to emerge. Much like the mosquito, as the new adult flea emerges from its cocoon it is drawn to a potential blood host by sensing carbon dioxide and body heat, as well as movement and vibration. Something as simple as your dog walking across a rug can alert the flea it is time to emerge from its safe haven and feed.
Dog getting application of dermal flea and tick control.
It only takes a few hours for an adult flea to begin its reign of terror once it emerges from the cocoon. Shortly after the first meal, adult fleas will breed and begin laying eggs within a few days. Female fleas must obtain a blood meal in order to lay eggs and perpetuate the life cycle all over again. Adult fleas account for less than 5% of the entire flea population present in your home, on your pet or in your yard during an infestation. Fleas are responsible for tapeworms and flea allergy dermatitis in your pet and in rare cases can even cause your pet to become anemic due to blood loss.
Flea activity spikes during warm weather, and Mosquito Squad of Columbia has received many calls regarding flea infestations already this season. Our flea control consists of a series of 3 treatments to kill existing fleas and guard against new ones hatching within the treated area. After 3 treatments, Mosquito Squad of Columbia will guarantee the premises will remain flea free the entire season. We do recommend keeping your pet on a regular schedule of flea preventative as prescribed by your veterinarian. Many oral products are highly effective such as Comfortis and Trifexis, but over time these products can be tough on your pet’s stomach. Topical flea preventative are essentially ineffective at controlling fleas. Our program is so effective at stopping the fleas before they reach your pet, you may not need to administer the flea control pills at all.
The crew at Mosquito Squad of Columbia. Our own little Sophie Dog is happy and flea free!
In order to receive our guaranteed 3-treatment flea program you do not have to be on the mosquito program. This is not a prerequisite of program participation. However, if you are one of our Mosquito Squad customers it is more economical because we bill the flea program as an add-on service. This means when we treat the lawn for mosquitoes we also treat for fleas. Within this same application we will also treat for adult ticks. Mosquito Squad of Columbia can also treat for fleas inside the house if necessary. This can include rugs, pet bedding or your favorite couch or chair. You will have to allow sufficient time to dry before you let pets or family back on it. It doesn’t stain. We only do it if pets have brought fleas inside, and we also ask customers requesting an interior treatment to vacuum thoroughly before we arrive. It is also important to remind you that discarding your spent vacuum cleaner bags is important as it can contain all stages of fleas from egg to adult and can lead to re-infestation if not handled and disposed of properly and in a timely manner.
If you are ready to put an end to the endless cycle of fleas and the discomfort they cause to both you and your pet, contact Mosquito Squad of Columbia today for a free quote • (803) 345 – 7575 • email:Columbia@MosquitoSquad.com