iStock-820615074

When temperatures begin to rise, fleas become a problem with many pet owners.  The easiest way to avoid flea problems is by keeping your pet on a preventative recommended by your veterinarian.  If you DO develop a flea problem, here is what you need to know:

It’s necessary to understand a little about the life cycle of fleas in order to understand the problems with eliminating them.  The life cycle is determined by exterior conditions.  In summer, fleas are more active due to favorable conditions and the life cycle is shorter (about 3 weeks).  In winter, fleas can live for up to six months in the cocoon stage because of inactivity and unfavorable exterior conditions.

The four stages of the flea life cycle are the eggs, larvae, cocoon and adult.  Eggs are laid in dark environments, such as under carpets.  Once hatched (between 1-10 days), the larvae continue to look for similar dark environments in which to develop (5-11 days).  Larvae hide in the seams and crevices of furniture; they burrow down into carpets and hide in the cracks of floors.  As the larvae develop into cocoons, their favorite hiding place is in carpets because the cocoons can attach themselves securely to the fibers.  Here they stay from between one week to six months before emerging as adult fleas.

You may have noted that during the first three life stages, fleas never need come in contact with your pet.  It is only as an adult flea that a “host” is needed.  This means that the flea bath you just gave Fido will kill adult fleas and any eggs that Fido may be carrying, but you still have a problem lurking in your home.

CLEANING, particularly vacuuming is critical to the control of a flea infestation.  With an eye towards their hiding places, just pull out your vacuum’s crevice tool and go for it.  Pay particular attention to the edges of your carpet at the baseboard and your furniture seams and crevices.  Vacuum slowly over the entire carpeted area and also wood floors.  It is estimated that by vacuuming, you can remove nearly 50% of the flea eggs.  And while vacuuming isn’t very effective at removing the cocoons from the carpet, the vibration from the vacuum CAN result in the emergence of the adult fleas from the cocoons.  Consequently, you just removed these adults from circulation before they can even get to your pet.

After vacuuming, it is very important to remove the bag and throw it away—outside.  For those canister vacuums that do not use bags, empty the canister into a plastic bag and discard outside.  The eggs and fleas you just removed are still alive, so it is important to remove them from the premises, even though the bag may only be partially full.

a Vacuuming (and discarding the bag) just prior to the arrival of our pest control professional is one of the most important things a homeowner can do to ensure a successful treatment.  (It goes without saying that treating your pet for fleas is THE most important step).

Another critical component of an overall flea treatment is to target the pet’s bedding and areas where he prefers to lay or sleep.  Wash all bedding in hot, soapy water and dry in a hot dryer to kill eggs, larvae and cocoons—all of which are sensitive to heat.  (And if Fido sleeps with you, include YOUR bedding in the wash cycle.)

When out technician arrives, family and pets will need to be away form home for approximately two hours to give the chemical time to dry.  You can expect it to take several days for treatment to be completely effective (the chemical we put down continues to work on emerging adult fleas.)  If the infestation is particularly bad, a second treatment maybe required after ten days.

Finally, you might need to have your exterior treated if flea problems persist.  Be sure to share any information about your pet’s habits that you think may be appropriate.  For example, one homeowner kept having flea problems despite treatment.  Once we discovered that her pets liked to lie under the deck during the heat of the day, we treated under the deck and the problem was solved.

Fleas are covered under our continuing Pest Control Service Agreements.