Fleas are important for two reasons; they bite and they can transmit diseases such as plague and murine typhus. There are four types of fleas: Cat, Dig, Human and Oriental. They are all basically the same.
Females lay 4-8 eggs after each blood meal, laying some 400-500 during their lifetime. These eggs will just fall off the pet or will fall off when the pet shakes. Frequently eggs, larvae and pupae are found in cracks and crevices where pets frequent, such as among your furniture cushions.
Larvae feed on adult fecal blood. They require high relative humidity. Larvae die at humidity levels below 45% and above 95%. They fail to develop at temperatures below 55% and at or above 95%. The larvae will then spin a cocoon and incorporate surrounding debris on its surface which provides camouflage. It will remain in this stage for up to 20 weeks (5 months), where it is protected from adverse conditions, including pesticides. This is why we use a chemical that carries a residual that will remain for future hatchings. Over the counter flea bombs don't carry a long enough residual.
Adults are stimulated to emerge from the cocoon either by mechanical depression of the cocoon, an increase in temperature and possibly vibrations. Adults seek blood meals the second after emerging, but can live for several months on stored body fat. Once an adult attaches to a host, it is there to stay unless it becomes dislodged. Although they have a preference in hosts, they readily survive using other species. By the grooming of a pet, 50% of the adult fleas can be removed. For those not removed, the life expectancy of the adult flea can be up to one year.
Fleas are commonly removed from the home by vacuuming and by them attaching themselves to pets lifting them off the carpets. While families are away those two things are not happening so the population of fleas multiplies at a much faster rate. When the family returns and there are vibrations in the house, the fleas will emerge and you will then have a flea explosion.
Preparations Prior to a Flea Treatment
- Cleaning is the primary way to eliminate fleas. Chemical treatment is secondary. There is no guarantee on the flea treatment if pre-cleaning is not done.
- Vacuum thoroughly daily – especially along baseboards and appliances where the larvae hide and locations where the pets frequent most. Furniture must be vacuumed well, particularly beneath the cushions and within the crevices where the eggs will settle. Always discard the vacuum bag because the fleas will just exit your vacuum when stored.
- Mop all bare floors well, paying close attention along baseboards and along the base of the cabinets.
- Laundering – All throw rugs in the house and bedding of owners and pets must be laundered and DRIED IN THE DRYER where the heat is hot enough to kill the eggs. Bedding is never sprayed.
- Bedrooms – All items on the floors of closets must be removed and placed on top of the beds.
On the Day of the Flea Treatment
- All pets must be treated for fleas on the same day as your house.
- The floor must be clear of all clutter so that the carpet is completely accessible for treatment. Furniture can remain in place.
- All foods and dishes in the kitchen must be put away.
- The bedspreads along the sides of the beds need to be lifted up and flipped on the top of the beds.
- Open a few windows for cross ventilation to air out the odor of the chemical.
- People and pets must remain out of the house for at least two hours or until the chemical has dried on the carpet. After the chemical has dried, it is harmless to people and pets.
- Wait one full day before vacuuming, continue vacuuming on a daily basis thereafter.