Diptera Types: Cat, Dog, Northern Rat, Oriental, Rat, Rabbit
Fleas are small (2mm) wingless insects, with hard bodies flattened side to side, red-brown with backwardly directed spines and powerful legs designed for jumping enabling them to find new hosts as well as to escape quickly the attempts of the hosts to remove them. The adults can survive away from a host for several weeks without eating. All adult fleas are parasitic on warm-blooded animals and birds. Flea eggs are usually laid in dirt or in the nest of the host. Larval stages live in the nest of the host and feed on skin, feathers and, most importantly, the blood-rich feces of the adult flea. When fully grown the larvae spin well camouflaged silken cocoons. When fully developed the adult waits within until it detects the vibrations caused by a potential host. Only then does it emerge. The complete life cycle takes about an month in the summer. Adult fleas feed on blood using piercing and sucking mouth parts. Their bites can cause intense irritation around the central bright red spot. Different people react differently to a bite, both in terms of degree of reaction and time taken to react. Fleas are classified in the phylum Arthropoda , class Insecta, order Siphonaptera. The Cat Flea is by far the commonest species of flea and readily bites humans. The Human Flea and the Bird Flea are next in importance. Dog fleas are rare, although other species may become temporarily attached to dogs.
No matter how hard you may try to avoid them, fleas are part of owning a dog or cat. You can, however, take precautions to protect your pet by knowing when flea season begins for your area. In the Pacific Northwest, we experience year round activity for fleas. Remember: fleas can survive indoors during colder months, so it’s important for you to consult your veterinarian about treatment for your pet. Quality 1st Pest Solutions can provide year round protection in and around your home to help protect your pet from the aggravation of fleas using different both natural and chemical methods. The flea has a lifespan of six to 12 months. During that time, a pair of fleas could produce millions of offspring. Fleas have survived millions of years in a variety of environments. Some species can leap 15 to 36 inches high.
Fleas can cause reactions in your pet varying from a mild skin irritation to a severe allergic reaction. Because fleas feed on blood, an extreme infestation can cause anemia or even death in animals. All cats and dogs, and other mammals, too, are susceptible to flea infestations, except for some that live in high elevations or in extremely dry environments.
Whether or not you actually see fleas on your pet, they may be there. Scratching, scabs and dark specs, or “flea dirt,” found on the skin can all be signs that your pet has become the unwitting host for a family of fleas. Fleas can carry tapeworms, too. In extreme cases, an animal may be lethargic and its lips and gums pale. All cats and dogs are susceptible to flea infestations, except for some that live in high elevations or in extremely dry environments. You can help your pet win the war on fleas by knowing your flea season, which is largely influenced by temperature and humidity. In March we begin to see a increase in activity, rapidly growing thru the summer peaking in July-August. Then it gradually declines back to lower levels by November to December.
To battle flea infestation requires patience and perseverance. Because the life cycle of a flea is three to four weeks, it will take at least that long to completely rid your pet and its environment of the enemy. Different flea control products work in different ways, have varying levels of effectiveness and kill different flea stages (eggs, larvae and/or adults). We need to use a combination of products at the same time to be effective.
Dips, shampoos, powders and sprays will usually kill the adult fleas on your pet. Using a flea comb regularly will help, too. But more adults may be lurking in your home or yard, and eggs or larvae may be lying in wait, as well. You’ll need to rid your house of fleas by vacuuming and washing your pet’s bedding once a week, and using a disinfectant on washable surfaces and an insecticide or insect growth regulator in cracks and crevices (sometimes foggers are recommended) every two to four weeks. When using chemical products to control fleas, be very careful. You may be providing too much of a potentially toxic chemical if you use, say, a flea dip and a fogger with the same chemical ingredient. Always check with your veterinarian before beginning your war on fleas for your pet. Even if you purchase an over-the-counter product, it’s wise to consult your veterinarian for any safety concerns. To assist you with clearing your home of fleas, our methods at Quality 1st Pest Solutions treating your yard, carpets, pet areas, and other necessary areas can provide year round protection for your pet. Sunlight kills fleas, so concentrating efforts in the shady areas of your yard especially can help with the process of eliminating fleas. We can spray your yard with insecticide, we also treat your yard using fleas natural enemy, nematodes. Nematodes are microscopic worms that kill flea larvae and cocoons. We apply them to your yard once a month until the fleas are gone.
Be very careful to use the products as directed; some may be effective for dogs, but toxic to cats. Always consult with your veterinarian before implementing any flea control program that involves treating your pet directly.