You notice your pet constantly scratching and looking miserable. Then you notice a tiny insect crawling through your pet’s fur. It’s been confirmed your pet has fleas. But what are fleas exactly?
In the insect world, fleas are known by their Latin name Siphonaptera. There are currently 2,500 flea species worldwide. Fleas are small wingless insects that have microscopic hair, shiny bodies and tend to be reddish brown in color. They are external parasites they usually live on mammals (but don’t be fooled they like humans too!) and feed on the blood of their host. Fleas have mouth parts that are adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. Their bites can lead to painful, extreme scratching, compromise the host’s immune system and even transmit diseases. Even though fleas do not have wings, they do have hind legs that give them the extreme ability to jump long distances. They are also very small in size, which allows them remarkable maneuvering capabilities to move through your pet’s hair, carpet and furniture which makes any pet owner vulnerable to a flea infestation.
So how did you end up with fleas in your home? As mentioned earlier, fleas live and feed on mammals, and they particularly enjoy dogs and cats. They can attach to your pet’s hair when they are outside which makes it easy for them to be tracked inside. Just one single flea can cause an epidemic in your house because fleas can give birth very easily and abundantly. Flea eggs can remain dormant for long periods of time, then once they are hatched they quickly find a host to attach to. Fleas live year round and can even remain frozen for a year and survive. They especially thrive in warm, humid conditions which makes summer the optimal time for infestation in many homes.
What steps can you take to eliminate your flea infestation?
The first step to take is to immediately kill the fleas on your pet. You can contact your veterinarian for a flea preventative or even purchase a fast-acting, over-the-counter product. This will prevent fleas from jumping back onto your pet again. Fleas and their eggs are extremely hard to get rid because they don’t just live in one spot. They spread everywhere they have gone to, which means everywhere in your home. And you have to go to the root of where the infestation started-your yard. Which means the next step you need to take is contacting your local pest control company for assistance or use an over the counter chemical treatment depending on the severity of the situation. You also need to clean your house thoroughly and wash all bedding. The best way to eliminate fleas from your yard or to even prevent them from hanging out in your yard is to have your local pest control spray a chemical pesticide or your can purchase an over-the-counter pesticide spray product yourself.
It is important to retreat your home and yard 3-4 weeks after your first treatment. It is also important to keep your pet an a flea prevention year round. Preventing fleas from infesting your pet, your yard and your home ensures a comfortable living environment for everyone.