What are they?
Adult fleas are parasites, living off warm-blooded animals. Different species of flea live off different animals. Cat fleas are approximately 2-3mm in size, brownish, and are responsible for the majority of flea infestations.
Their increase in numbers in recent years has been caused by an increase in the number of people keeping pets and by the tendency for pet owners to neglect cleaning their pet's bedding properly.
Central heating provides the necessary warmth needed for fleas to breed and fitted carpets provide relatively undisturbed environments for flea larvae to develop.
Flea bites appear as a tiny dark red spot surrounded by a reddened area which can be intensely irritating and usually persists for one or two days.
Flea eggs are about half a millimetre long, pearly-white in colour and are laid on the pet or in its bedding. Four to eight eggs are laid after each blood meal, a single female producing between 800 and 1000 eggs during her lifetime which may be as long as two years.
The eggs hatch in about one week into larvae which live in dark, humid places such as animal bedding and carpet fluff, feeding on debris and adult flea excrement. A cat's bedding may support 8000 immature and 2000 adult fleas.
After two to three weeks, the larvae spin cocoons and pupate and may spend winter in this state. The adult flea will then be stimulated to emerge by the vibrations set up by a passing host. Development from egg to adult is normally completed in 4 weeks but at low temperatures will take much longer.
How can I treat them?
Regular cleaning prevents fleas breeding sites and contributes significantly to their control. You should remove accumulations of debris from cracks and crevices such as the cracks between skirting boards and floorboards, and the whole area thoroughly cleaned.
You can use over the counter insecticides* to treat your home if it is infested. Before you start treatment you should thoroughly clean your home with a vacuum cleaner. Placing a small quantity of insecticidal dust onto a carpet and vacuuming it up will control fleas, which get sucked into the cleaners’ bag. After this treatment, avoid vacuuming for between seven and ten days.
Pets such as cats or dogs should be treated using veterinary products which have been specifically formulated and registered for use on pet animals. Always make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Pets' bedding must also be thoroughly laundered.
*Always refer to the product instructions before use and follow these at all times.
Last Updated on Friday, October 21, 2022