Warm days turn to autumn mists and that warm and wet combination is heaven for fleas. Then, when winter comes, we crank up the central heating – and that gives them a whole new burst of life to the fleas in our homes and domestic properties.
The key to beating this is to understand the fleas’ life cycle. That means you’ll be better placed to control the risks this autumn.
The Flea Life Cycle
The fleas we notice are the adults. That’s because they’re the ones that feed on our pet cats or dogs. (Thankfully, the fleas cannot survive on us, although some people are sensitive to fleabites.)
The adult is, therefore, most important stage – because that’s when they are active pests. But their presence is only the tip of an iceberg. After an adult female flea has fed on your pet they will mate and then lay literally millions of microscopic eggs – invisible to the human eye.
The eggs themselves are slippery and so your pet will now shed them everywhere they go. The eggs then hatch into a larva, again microscopic, and then – depending on factors like temperature and humidity – the larva progress through several stages before they form either a pupa or a new adult flea.
You might think the worst option here is the adult flea. But the pupa has a rock-hard surface that forms an impermeable cocoon; which means at this stage the pupa can’t be killed. But it can remain in your home, in limbo, for months and months… ready to emerge when the weather warms, or you turn the central heating up!
So the adult fleas you think are the problem are merely the symptom of a much larger issue.
It makes grim reading, I know: and that’s why, as a nation of pet lovers, we spend so much every year on flea treatments.
But there is something else you can do to break the flea life cycle and get your pet some relief!
First, use a treatment on your pet for at least six months, or as advised by your vet, to prevent the reappearance of fleas from eggs trapped in their coats. These treatments will kill the larva and the adults; but not the pupa.
Now consider environmental measures that you can do: vacuum on and under furniture, in difficult to reach corners and other dark places. (The larvae are attracted to darkness, like the other bloodsuckers of folklore!)
Vacuuming is also the only way to help rid your home of those nasty microscopic pupae.
Professional help can also ensure you treat the environment effectively and prevent the re-emergence of adults in a few months time. Consider this if you’ve already had a previous outbreak.
So what can our treatments do that a good vacuum can’t?
Safe chemical treatments can be particularly effective in helping to prevent the eggs from hatching. Remember, eggs are the most numerous form of fleas – with millions of eggs for each adult mother – so if we kill the eggs then we break the life cycle and prevent future problems.
So, even if you see the tell-tale scratching starting over the coming months, relax… We can help because when used properly our treatments will work together with treatments recommended by your vet to kill the adult fleas, break the life cycle and prevent any future re-infestation.