What Do Fleas Look Like?
Fleas are wingless parasites with thin and small bodies that are few millimeters long and are brown or reddish-brown in color. Their long back legs are modified for jumping and they can jump as high as 100 times their height from the ground to their host or from one host to another with ease. They only travel by jumping and crawling and don’t ‘fly’ at all even though they might appear as if they’re flying when moving. There are covered with hair in their bodies which make it easy for them to root themselves to their host’s hair or fur and move easily.
Fleas have four lifecycle stages and understanding them can also help you to treat and even prevent their infestation in the future.
- Eggs: Fleas eggs are small and whitish in color. One female flea can lay 50 eggs or more in just one day. The female can lay eggs on the pet and because they’re light, they can fall off in the home environment.
- Larvae: Eggs become larvae after 2-10 days and feed on the feces of the adult fleas or dead flea larvae. Larvae avoid light and hide into carpets, cracks in hardwood floors, upholstery and under baseboards. The larvae stage lasts for 5-11 days.
- Pupae: The larvae will then create a cocoon or pupa. It is in the pupa that the larvae mature into an adult. It is not easy to get rid of fleas’ infestation as they are protected from most treatments used on the premises. They are also mostly situated beyond the reach of the sprays and even resist efforts such as steam cleaning. It takes 1-3 weeks for the flea to mature inside the pupa and will remain in it until the food source (pet or even human) is detected nearby.
- Adults: Young adults will get out of the pupa and will start feeding within seconds after finding a host. Once the feeding starts, they are dependent on their hosts. Fleas die within 4 days if they were removed from their hosts (cat or dog) and had no access to blood.
The life cycle of the flea takes around 21 days on average but can vary depending on the moisture and temperature. The warm and moist environment is ideal for flea development.
What Do Fleas Eat?
There are many different species of fleas, but they all have one thing in common, they are all bloodsuckers. The majority of the flea species feed on the mammals’ blood but there are those that feed on birds’ blood. They target pets such as cats and dogs as well as humans. Fleas may infest the entire bodies of the pets and in humans; they habitually target the feet and the legs. Even though they’re tiny, they can cause itchy, soreness and discomfort in pets. In humans, their bites cause red spots and reddened haloes visible around the spots.
Adult fleas can also feed on debris and can stay for up to one month without feeding on blood. A female flea when feeding can consume up to 15 times its weight.
Fleas are successful parasites and they are built to be resilient. They have extended mouthparts that work together to feed on their hosts’ blood. The epipharynx is a needle-like feeding tube that the flea uses to enter the skin and is surrounded by laciniae which slices through the skin of the host. Flea has special pumps in its guts and mouth which work as suction devices to suck the blood into the epipharynx.
Are Fleas Dangerous?
Fleas pose no health risk to human but can cause prolonged itching which might lead to infection. They can also cause human skin irritation as well as allergic reactions to medications or ingrown hairs.
Fleas also cause skin irritation in pets and the prolonged itching and scratching by the pet allows the skin to break open and form scabs and this can lead to infection. The pet can also suffer allergic reactions and internal complications from flea infestations and bites.
Fleas can pass tapeworms to your pet. Tapeworms are parasites that ingest the flea and can be passed to the pet. A tapeworm which is inside the flea initially can also grow inside the pet. A veterinarian can treat tapeworms.
Another health risk that the pet can experience is the flea bite anemia. This is caused by severe flea infestation which causes the red blood cell count on the pet to decrease to very low levels. Thus, they develop anemia. This should be treated as a medical emergency and in some cases; it can be fatal if left untreated.
How To Prevent Fleas
In order to prevent fleas, it is wise to know where you can find them. Even though most adult fleas are visible to the eyes of a human, they can also hide. They can live in beddings, carpets, cracks in floors or other hidden areas. Fleas can live in outdoors as well including in grass, weed, and sidewalks which make it easy for them to hop on human or pet during the walk.
There are various ways in which you can prevent fleas but first, you should make sure your pets are given the latest flea medicine. Other ways include:
- Trim the grass and weed in your home, cut back bushes and ensure the hiding places are kept at minimum levels.
- Keep debris away from your home compound.
- Don’t leave any pet food outside your home compound.
- Vacuum your rugs and carpets regularly.
- Comb your pet regularly using flea comb before they come inside the house
- Contact us, the flea fighting experts!
Getting Rid Of Fleas. Expert Care Is The Best Way
Once you realize the fleas have begun to infest your house, it’s time you seek expert care and help in the form of an exterminator.
There are many ways we curb fleas infestation in your home.
The fleas fighting expert can use pre-packaged aerosol products which have insecticide as well as a growth regulator which are most often used by licensed experts to prevent fleas from growing to their final stages and becoming mature sexually. The procedure has been tested and proved to end the reproduction cycle of the fleas.
There are many other products they are going to use and the most important lesson you should learn is to always keep the children and pets off the surface that have been treated until they’re dry. Vacuuming the treated surfaces or items like carpets, beddings and other items several days after the infestation is important. You will not just remove the dead insects but also allow the remaining fleas to absorb the insecticide with ease.