A flea is a very small insect that survives by feeding on animal or human blood.
Their bites can cause itching and irritation. Fleas can infect people or pets with germs that cause flea-borne typhus, plague, or cat-scratch disease.
The life cycle of a flea
Most fleas have four life stages: egg, larva, pupa (in a cocoon), and adult.
According to the CDC, its life cycle can be very rapid or last for many months or years, depending on the environment.
After adult fleas find a human host, they mate and begin laying eggs on and around the host’s fur. The eggs hatch in one to ten days depending on environmental conditions (temperature and humidity).
After hatching, fleas enter their larval stage. They move freely and feed on flea blood and feces to keep growing. Within five to 20 days of feeding on “flea dirt,” the larva spins a cocoon and enters the pupal stage. The cocoon protects them from insecticides for several days to weeks until the adults are ready to emerge.
Insecticides will NOT kill fleas when they are in cocoons!
Adult fleas will not emerge from the cocoon until they know a host is present; they are alerted to a host by movement or body heat. Adult female fleas begin feeding within a few hours of emerging and will begin mating and laying eggs soon after.
Fleas find a host by detecting body heat, movement, and vibrations caused by movement and breathing. They prefer animals, but will bite people when animals are not available.
The Most Common Fleas in Michigan
There are more than 2,500 species of fleas worldwide and only 300 of them are found in the United States.
According to michigan state university, the cat flea is the most common flea species in Michigan. The dog flea is usually found on wild animals. Both species prefer dogs and cats as hosts, but are found on a wide variety of other animals, including rodents and livestock.
Both species are intermediate hosts for the dog tapeworm, which is common in both dogs and cats. The tapeworm is transmitted when the animal ingests infested fleas. The tapeworm could infect children if they accidentally eat infested fleas.
If the weather is warm and humid, the cat flea can complete its life cycle in three weeks. Fleas transmit disease-causing germs by feeding on hosts or through fecal contamination, when infected flea feces are scratched into an open wound.
Cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis)
This flea is the most common flea found on pets (including dogs) and other domestic animals in the United States.
It is capable of spreading plague bacteria, but does so inefficiently compared to ground squirrel or rat fleas.
Cat fleas do not willingly leave their host once they have boarded.
Dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis)
Transmits: Helps spread Dipylidium caninum, a tapeworm commonly found in dogs and cats, but occasionally found in humans.
Despite its name, the dog flea is not a common domestic dog flea in the United States.
Read: Let’s Talk Michigan Ladybugs: Why They’re in Your House and Why You Shouldn’t Do Anything About It
How to kill them once they have invaded your home
Getting rid of fleas is not an easy task. Moderate to severe infestations will take months to control and will require several very organized steps.
The CDC recommends taking the following steps: Hygiene, pet treatment, home treatment and monitoring. For the first step, you will need to clean the areas where fleas frequently breed. That includes washing bedding, rugs, and pet bedding. You’ll need to vacuum and sweep the floors, paying attention to the edges of the walls.
Every pet in the home will need to be treated for fleas. Bathe them with soap and water, then comb them with a flea comb. Focus on the face and neck regions and the area in front of the tail. The soap will kill the adult fleas. You can talk to your vet about a flea control product for your pet.
You’ll want to treat your home at the same time you treat your pets. That keeps all treatments on the same timeline and helps interrupt the flea life cycle. You will need to do a follow-up treatment within five to 10 days after the first application. You will want to continuously vacuum and disinfect the areas throughout the period to pick up any remaining eggs and young fleas.
More flea control tips:
Wear a pair of white calf-length socks and walk around the house and keep track of the areas where you see the most fleas on the socks. Sock fleas are most likely newly emerged adults looking for a host.
Remember closets and other areas where cats like to spend time. Fleas will be most numerous in pet resting areas and other out-of-the-way places where cats like to spend time.
Both dogs and cats are very effective at getting rid of fleas – one researcher reported that up to 80% of fleas are killed by the host within two weeks, which means you should focus your flea control on the environment where the pet lives and not only in the pet.
To prevent the development of flea larvae, you should use insecticides known as insect growth regulators, or IGRs. They are synthetic compounds of a substance that are present in developing insects and control the growth of larvae. They interfere with normal development and kill the larvae. They have very low toxicity to mammals, so they are safe to use around babies and young children.
The most widely available IGR for flea control is methoprene. Precor remains effective for up to four months, so you can treat your home three times a year to virtually eliminate flea problems. Before applying Precor, you should thoroughly clean and vacuum your home to remove any residue that will prevent full Precor coverage.
After cleaning, apply Precor spray to all floor surfaces, upholstered furniture (remove cushions and interior areas), pet sleeping areas, bottom 18” of drapes to floor. Move and treat under all furniture. Make sure all treated surfaces are completely dry, usually 2 hours, before allowing anyone back into the house. Wait two days before vacuuming carpets to give Precor time to settle.
Does not kill pupae or adult fleas.
Tips to prevent fleas on your pets
The CDC said there are some things you can do to prevent fleas on your pet.
You can limit the amount of time they spend outdoors, limit their contact with stray and wild animals, bathe and brush them regularly, and check for fleas regularly.
You should talk to your veterinarian about flea control products and treat your pet year-round to kill adult fleas and prevent new ones from hatching.
Flea collars alone are not effective. While some flea collars can help keep fleas out of the head and neck areas, fleas usually stay in the tail and lower belly regions. Some pets may also develop an itchy rash from the flea collar.
Cats, kittens, and young dogs can get sick from sensitivity to the insecticide on the collars. They can also be dangerous if they get stuck in the pet’s mouth. Therefore, if you use them, you should use them with caution.
the Michigan Humane Society recommends using high-quality flea products or treatments. There are many newer flea repellant products on the market. Some are premixed, measured liquids that you can put on your pet’s skin. It is only necessary to apply it once a month.
Read: Bed Bug Problems: What To Do If You Have Them, How To Check For Them, How To Prevent Them
Copyright 2022 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit – All Rights Reserved.