The fleas that you commonly find around your home are usually Cat Fleas (Ctenocephalides felis), and are small (averages 2mm in size) wingless insects, with flattened and red-brown, with backwardly directed spines and legs designed for jumping. They are distributed globally and established throughout the UK.
Mainly active in communal rooms where pets sleep and where there is most activity. Fleas are generally found to be living on pets, in carpets, pet bedding and upholstered furniture.
All adult fleas are parasitic on warm-blooded animals. The females lay their eggs after feeding on the infested animal. Female fleas can live up to two years, during which time they can lay up to 1000 eggs. The eggs drop onto the floor and the animal’s bedding. After several days the eggs will develop into larvae. When fully grown the larvae spin well camouflaged silken cocoons. When fully developed the adult waits within this until it detects the vibrations caused by a potential host. Only then does it emerge. The complete lifecycle takes about a month in the summer.
How the infestation will be controlled
It’s difficult to prevent your pets from getting fleas. However, there are some things you can do to reduce your chances of getting them:
- Pet maintenance – Applying veterinary approved Flea products to your pet, preferably on a regular basis.
- Vacuuming – Frequently vacuum the areas your pet is around, especially carpeted areas in and any furniture that is frequented by your pet. Don’t forget to regularly empty the vacuum cleaner outside.
- Washing – Regularly wash your pet’s bedding, blanket and other washable items in the hottest water possible, and use a pet shampoo includes an insecticide.
- Gardening – Try and keep your garden neat and tidy by mowing your lawn and raking up any leaves, grass or bush clippings, especially during late summer.
Prior to an insecticide treatment, clear as much floor space as possible, to ensure that treatment is as thorough as possible. Vacuuming all areas helps to remove any debris, eggs, larvae and adult fleas. The vibration of the vacuum cleaner also helps to stimulate adults to hatch from their cocoon stage. Remember to remove the waste collection compartment/bag, from the vacuum cleaner, and dispose of it in an outside bin as you may have collected eggs, larvae and adult fleas while vacuuming.
The standard treatment for infested premises is the application of a residual insecticide, which will usually include a juvenile hormone regulator, either as a liquid spray or a powder. The insecticide is applied to all floor surfaces. Ensure you do not vacuum or wash for at least 2 weeks (or longer if possible), or you’ll be in danger of eliminating the residual insecticide which will lead to a failed treatment.