Fleas are pests to humans and their domestic animals all over the world. While most fleas prefer non-human hosts, many can and do feed on humans when infestations are heavy or when other hosts are not readily available.
Fleas are small, wingless parasitic insects that are extremely well adapted to their environment. The first step toward effective control is recognizing two very important factors. First, the 4 stages of the flea life cycle (egg, larva, pupa, and adult) have to be broken or stopped. Second, the flea population must be controlled everywhere it exists, on the pet, inside the home, and out in the yard.
1. THE EGG STAGE
The eggs are laid loosely and singly on the host. The eggs are not sticky so when the host shakes, scratches, or moves around the eggs will be deposited in all areas where the host rests, sleeps, and is active.
2. THE LARVAL STAGE
Flea larva is whitish, legless, and worm like. Unlike adult fleas, the larvae are free living (non-parasitic) with chewing mouth parts and feed on material available in their environment. It is necessary for successful development of the larva to feed on organic debris and the adult flea excrement containing dried blood which composes the main diet of the flea larva. Larvae are more sensitive to temperature and humidity than the eggs. Low humidity, less than 50%, is fatal for flea larvae. The larval period normally lasts 7-15 days, but can be as long as several months if the environment is less favorable.
3. THE PUPAL STAGE
Unlike the egg and larval stage, the pupa stage is very resilient to harsh conditions. The cocoon serves to protect the pupa from predators and also acts as a barrier against insecticides. Within the cocoon the pupa changes into a pre-emerged adult flea. Adults will emerge from the pupa case in 5-7 days under favorable conditions. In adverse conditions, the pupae and pre-emerged adults can lay quiet within the cocoon for up to a full year. Flea emergence can be stimulated by body warmth of the host and the pressure made by a host walking on the pre-emerged adult within the cocoon, increased temperatures and mechanical disturbances.
4. THE ADULT STAGE
The adult flea has well developed legs for jumping. Adults have piercing-sucking mouth parts and are usually ready to take a blood meal, their only source of food, 24-48 hours after emerging from the cocoon. Adult fleas spend 90% of their life on the host and feed many times a day. On average, the female flea lays 15-20 eggs per day for the 10-14 days that she is fertile.
For an effective flea program to stop any re-infestation of fleas in all areas, the pet, the home, and the yard must be treated. Pets drop flea eggs anywhere at any time. After hatching, the flea larva then can migrate to dark traffic areas where food is available. All stages of the flea can be carried throughout the house in the laundry, on people or on their clothing. Also, if the infested pet frequently travels in the family vehicle it may be necessary to treat the vehicle as well. Outdoor treatment is also necessary when the pets are allowed outside.
Although nearly all adult fleas present at the time of service will be controlled, don’t be alarmed if you see some fleas within a few days to three weeks after treatment. These are newly emerged adults from the cocoon of the pupa stage. If these conditions are present after treatment, control the new adults on the pet with bathing or a pet flea insecticide. Any flea prevention program must include regular grooming and bathing of the pet. If the pet is not being treated regularly, you could see constant sightings of fleas. Your home and your yard would not be re-infested but your pet would be infested.
To insure a continuous protection from fleas on your home and yard, we recommend that you renew your flea services at the end of each guarantee period. Call us today for a free estimate and a complete explanation of any of our services. Don’t let unwanted guests spoil your beautiful Southwest Florida lifestyle! Remember, Florida does not have to be shared with insects!