Description The adult flea is 2 7 mm long and reddish brown in colour.
Their bodies are compressed sideways enabling them to move quickly through hairs or fur.
Fleas have relatively large hind legs, which are used for jumping, and the most common species are the cat and dog flea. Human fleas are very rare.
Adult fleas live on a host usually either cat or dog and less frequently human beings.
Fleas may be found in carpets, soft furnishings and pet bedding. The flea population usually reaches its peak in the autumn months.
The flea lays very small white oval shaped eggs. The eggs will be found in carpets and pet bedding. These eggs will hatch in about a week, turning into very small thread-like larvae
.After three weeks the larvae will be fully grown, then they spin a cocoon and pupate. After seven days the adult flea will emerge, but it can remain in the cocoon stage until it senses the presence of a potential blood meal to ensure its survival.
The adult flea will usually emerge from the pupa, but remain within the cocoon until stimulated by some mechanical vibration of a potential host, for example a person walking into a room.
Therefore walking into a long vacated house may still result in a flea infestation due to the activation of dormant pupae and adults from previous animal hosts.
Fleas cannot breed unless the host animal is present, for example a cat flea can only breed whilst there is a resident cat. They will however jump onto other animals or humans and feed on the blood to survive. The life span of the adult flea is around four to six weeks.
You may be able to control a small flea infestation by taking these simple steps:-
- Check and treat your pets with an appropriate flea spray or powder using the product as directed on the container.
- The infested area should be thoroughly cleaned using a vacuum cleaner, paying particular attention to carpet or floor edges.
- Pet bedding and upholstery should be thoroughly vacuumed and where possible washed. Washing should be done preferably at a temperature of 50°C or more, but more importantly in accordance with the care labels.
- The infested areas should then be treated with an insecticide spray formulated for fleas. Once you have sprayed the areas you should leave them for ten days before vacuuming thoroughly and repeating the treatment.
The insecticide will kill only adult fleas, it does not kill flea eggs, and this is why you will possibly need to repeat the treatment more than once for it to be effective.
Insecticides for treating fleas can be purchased from veterinary practices, some pharmacies, pet shops and supermarkets.
The Council will charge to treat for flea infestations or you could get your own professional treatment . You should approach an independent pest control company. Their details can be found in telephone directories and local newspapers.
If you intend to carry out your own treatment read the label of the insecticide container before you buy it to ensure it is suitable for the fleas you are treating.
Always follow the manufacturers instructions carefully when applying the insecticide so that you do not cause harm to yourself, your pets or furnishings.