There are over 2,000 described species of fleas. The most common domestic flea is the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis (Bouché). The adult cat flea, unlike many other fleas, remains on the host. Adults require a fresh blood meal in order to reproduce.
Another species that appears similar to the cat flea is the dog flea, but is rarely found in the United States. Cat fleas are commonly found on both cats and dogs in North America, while dog fleas are found in Europe. The two species are distinguished by a slight morphological difference which is detectable only under high magnification.
Did you know that the flea has killed more people than all the wars in human history (not in Baker, Crestview, Defuniak Springs, Niceville and Fort Walton Beach but worldwide)? It’s true. The pest that irritates your dogs and cats so much can spread the bubonic plague that killed one-fourth of Europe’s population during the 14th Century. In fact, pests are known to transmit 15 major disease-causing organisms. They also spread hundreds of other organisms which can make your life miserable.
Fleas thrive in Florida’s temperate climate and are not only introduced into yards as parasites on cats and dogs, but also on various other hosts such as squirrels, raccoons, rats, mice, and bats. They feed upon external body surfaces much like their relatives: ticks, lice, bedbugs, chiggers, mites, flies and mosquitoes. Fleas survive by sucking the blood of their hosts; and, although they prefer dogs and cats, they also attack humans.
Fleas reproduce very rapidly and abundantly. They go through a complete metamorphosis which means there are four stages of life: egg, larval, pupa and adult. One of the most important reasons why fleas can be so difficult to control is because they are resistant to insecticides while in both the egg and pupal stages. The pupal stage generally lasts from 7 to 10 days, but if there is no host around, the adult flea can survive, dormant, in the cocoon for up to six months. Another control issue is that they often develop down in carpet fibers and cracks/crevices where they can remain somewhat protected from the chemical applications.
A successful curative flea control program requires the coordination of several steps: site preparation, pet treatment, and home/yard application of insect control products. For site preparation, you will need to completely expose the entire floor surface in the treatment areas by removing any items from the floor, perhaps even in the areas under beds and in closets (particularly if your pets sleeps or rests there). This will clear out the area and allow for a thorough cleaning and effective insecticide treatment in any place where the fleas might be found. Vacuum all carpeting/rugs, furniture and around favorite pet areas daily. Remove and dispose of the vacuum bag immediately. This process will remove dirt/debris and allow for the treatment to better reach fleas down in the carpet fibers. Also, this process actually removes some of the flea eggs and adult fleas. In addition, the vacuum cleaner can provide a source of vibration which stimulates fleas to emerge from the pupal stage into adults, making them susceptible to the insecticide application while the chemical residual is still most active. It’s also important to either discard or wash (in hot water) all pet bedding or affected linens. For treatment of substructure areas (i.e., such as may be necessary under mobile homes, decks, etc.), crawlspaces, or yards, if at all possible, everything needs to be picked up to allow the ground surface to be thoroughly treated. Also, to further allow for flea exposure to the chemical, the yard should be completely groomed—grass mowed and leaves raked up.
Pet treatment needs to be done at about the same time as the insecticide application to prevent re-infestation from either the pet or premises. There are several safe and highly effective flea/tick control products currently available to help maintain an excellent long-term pet protection program. Consult with your veterinarian in order to determine the best product for your particular pet.
A good professional pest control operator will provide the best flea control value as they will have the expertise to provide the consultation and proper insecticide application which will ensure safe and effective results. After discussing the problem details with you, a good technician will quickly determine the best treatment strategy, know where to concentrate the treatment in a careful application, and be able to select the best products for your particular situation.
The insecticide mixture used will perhaps consist of a combination of several advanced and relatively-safe chemicals including fast-acting natural pyrethrins, a residual adulticide, and an insect growth regulator (IGR). The IGR is perhaps the most important component as it greatly extends the control because it mimics natural juvenile hormones and will therefore inhibit juvenile development of the fleas between the egg and pupal stages. Because the fleas contacting this material die before they ever reach adulthood, the IGR effectively breaks the reproductive cycle. Other types of IGRs actually sterilize fleas to provide the same extended control effect. Some examples of very effective IGRs are Precor (methoprene) and pyriproxyfen products. All of the most effective available insecticides are photosensitive to some extent (some much more than others) and therefore the dry residuals will not remain effective enough to control any re-infestations for longer than a few months, even indoors where protected from the weather elements and hence not exposed to much direct sunlight and rain.
The product formulation selected should provide for minimal possibility of any type of airborne contamination. However, as a general precaution, it is usually recommended that the treated area is well-ventilated and all people/pets vacate the premises, avoiding the treated areas until about two hours after the application or until the treated surfaces are completely dry. Any fish tanks, other pet aquariums, or bird cages should be covered prior to application. Because of the flea biology involving protected pupae emerging into adults perhaps days-to-weeks after the initial treatment, in order to expedite complete control, a moderate-to-severe flea infestation may require a follow-up treatment about 10 days later. Your technician should help you take care of the problem as quickly as possible and provide you with the best regular service program for proper maintenance.
We include necessary flea treatment as part of a general home pest control program for little or no additional expense to you as the customer. Also, in order to help maintain the control of fleas and other pests such as roaches, ants, and spiders, we provide an exterior home perimeter treatment as a part of your regular service. This consists of a partial yard treatment in a band around the home extending out about 10 feet. However, a high level of flea persistence may require a complete yard treatment along with your home service for adequate total control. We provide this additional service at a reduced rate if combined with home service on the same visit. The yard treatment also controls other pests such as fire ants.
Complete pest protection is very important to ensure the safety and comfort of your family and pets.
For free consultation to help you with any necessary planning and preparation needed for a successful flea control program, call the professionals at Spears Environmental Pest Control at 850-682-5354.