The most common flea is the Ctenocephalides felis, or the Cat Flea. Despite its name, this species feeds from cats, dogs and even people. The tiny, wingless insects feed off their host by drawing blood from it. Flea allergy dermatitis is certainly the most common problem associated with fleas. The irritation and incessant itching are hard to forget. When it comes to flea control, the best defense is a good offense! The key is to understand the flea’s life stages, and then attack them all.
A single female flea can lay 20-50 eggs at a time, creating over 2000 fleas in her short three month life span. A mere 25 adult female fleas can multiply to more than 250,000 fleas in just one month! Flea eggs fall off the pet, landing in your carpeting, pet bedding or furniture upholstery. Warm, moist and shady outdoor areas are also ideal environments for egg incubation. Flea eggs hatch into larvae within 1-10 days. These larvae feed off flea feces and debris for 5-25 days before reaching the pupal stage. The flea pupae then hatch into fully formed adults in just 5-9 days….OR they can remain dormant for up to five months. Adult fleas comprise only about 5% of the entire flea population. The remaining 95% consists of eggs, larvae and pupae in your environment. It’s easy to see how the flea can quickly invade and even overrun your home.
The most convenient and least time consuming treatment option is a topical spot-on application for your pet. The once-per-month dosages are pre-measured according to the size of your dog or cat. Just snip one open each month, apply it to the backline, and you’re set. There are many spot-on flea and tick control options for your dog or cat. It’s beneficial to look for one that includes an insect growth regulator (IGR), so that flea eggs and larvae are killed along with the adult fleas. This stops the flea life cycle and helps prevent future outbreaks. Commonly used IGRs include s-Methoprene and pyriproxyfen (Nylar).
Next, it’s important to treat your pets’ environment for fleas. Sprays, foggers and in-home powders are among the most convenient options. Use products that contain an IGR to kill flea eggs and larvae. It’s best to regularly clean and treat the indoor and outdoor areas frequented by your pets. Staying one step ahead of fleas will help keep them off of your pet and out of your home. Lori H