There are over 2,000 species of flea; the most common is the
cat flea. Despite its name, (and preference) it is adaptable
and is found living on both cats and dogs. Occasionally they
bite humans when desperate for a blood meal to provide protein
for egg production. A
flea population builds up rapidly. Females lay hundreds of
eggs, most of which proceed through larval and pupal stages
to adult. During spring and summer their life cycle can be
as short as 21 days, so a plague of fleas can
be an almost yearly occurrence.
A flea bite can cause acute irritation, infection and transfer
of other parasites, such as tapeworms. Fleas are also responsible
for a variety of problems ranging from simple itching through
to allergic skin reactions. The black or bubonic plague of
the Middle Ages and even modern times is a disease transmitted
by fleas biting humans after they had bitten rats.
management of this pest depends on a variety of factors including
familiarity with flea biology and habits, skilled inspection
techniques, informed pesticide selection and careful application
practicable, floors and any furnishings used by pets should
be vacuum cleaned before treatment. As vacuuming will sometimes
stimulate the pupae to emerge as adult fleas, the vacuum
bag contents should be disposed of immediately.
external treatments, the yard should be given a thorough
watering as this causes the fleas to come to the surface
and the treatment to be more effective.
Very effective products, including insect growth regulators
with low toxicity to mammals are available for application
by professional Pest Managers. Application to flea harbourages,
particularly the areas where pets rest or sleep, will eliminate
resident flea populations.
reduce the risk of re-infestation, pet bedding should be
washed or replaced and the pet treated with an appropriate
product on the advice of your veterinarian.