Pest advice for controlling Fleas
Is your pet fidgeting and scratching an unusual amount? Spotted something jumping around on the carpet? If you find yourself fretting about fleas, you’re in the right place.
Discovering there are fleas in your home is distressing and, due to their lifecycle, can be an uphill battle to control.
Whether you’re thinking about doing some DIY flea pest control or you’re looking to enlist the help of a professional pest management company, this guide is for you.
Fleas are ectoparasitic insects, meaning they live on the outside of a host animal. They feed on the blood of mammals and birds. It’s estimated that there are around 2,500 species of flea in the world.
We get three types of flea in the UK. The most common is the cat flea Ctenocephalides felis. Less often, we get dog fleas Ctenocephalides canis. While rare, we do occasionally get human flea Pulex irritans infestations.
The dangers: why we control fleas
Risk to people
In the UK at least, fleas do not commonly spread disease.
Although fleas do not pose a direct health risk, flea bites can cause intense irritation and itching to pets and humans alike.
The most problematic aspect of a flea bite on humans is the infection which can be caused by prolonged itching when left untreated.
Flea bites have been known to cause skin complaints, and can also exacerbate respiratory illnesses and cause complications.
Risk to pets
If your pet has fleas, it will suffer from a great deal of discomfort and could also have an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva.
Lengthy periods of infestation can cause your pet to develop anemia from the loss of blood, although this is rare. (See Fleas on pets below.)
Types of flea in the UK
The most common species of flea in the UK is the Cat flea Ctenocephalides felis. They are an extremely common pest whose primary host is domestic cats, but are known for readily biting humans and dogs too.
That’s right - just because it’s called a Cat flea, it doesn’t mean the pest won’t try and bite people too!
The Dog flea Ctenocephalides canis can also use a variety of mammals as a host, but primarily targets dogs and cats.
Other types of flea to be aware of are; the Bird flea Ceratophyllus gallinae and Human flea Pulex irritans.
The Bird flea only lives for a short time but is an impressive breeder, multiplying in great numbers in habitats such as hen houses.
Finally there are Human fleas, which are now rare in the UK. They are a known carrier of plague Yersinia pestis.
DID YOU KNOW: In World War Two, Japan tried to use fleas carrying Y. pestis as a biological weapon, dropping them in China.
Habitat: how fleas choose a home
Fleas can live on any warm-blooded animal but are often found to be living on humans, domestic animals and rodents.
When not feeding on a host, fleas are mainly active in communal rooms, places where pets sleep and wherever there is most activity.
Fleas and their eggs can be commonly found in soft furnishings which provide plenty of insulation, such as carpets, pet bedding, clothes and upholstered furniture.
If you have an active infestation, you may see fleas jumping in your carpet and furniture.
Six tell-tale signs that fleas are about
- Pets constantly scratching, licking or biting themselves may be the first sign
- Seeing fleas or flea droppings in the coat of your pet (easily spotted in light-coloured animals by brushing back the hair, in dark coated breeds it may be better to comb the animal over a sheet of paper)
- The identity of the black specks may be confirmed by adding a few drops of water: if they turn red, your pet has fleas!
- Bites on you or other members of the household, usually around ankles and legs
- If you have been holding or stroking a pet, you may find bites on your arms
- And the most obvious sign of a flea infestation? Seeing them! When they aren’t busy leeching our AB positive, fleas can often be spotted jumping around on soft furnishings.
How do professionals get rid of fleas?
Pest technicians get plenty of call-outs to treat properties for fleas - so if you’re having issues, you’re not alone!
The standard treatment for any infested premises is the application of a residual insecticide, either as a liquid spray or powder. The insecticide is applied to all floor surfaces.
Pest management professionals may also use something called an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR).
Flea eggs and pupae are not affected by insecticides - this fact is very important to understand after your home has been treated.
This prevents proper completion of the flea life cycle, from larvae to the adult stage. It won’t kill adult fleas, so will be used alongside a conventional insecticide.
Once treatment is complete, it is critical you do not wash or vacuum your carpets for a minimum of two weeks - longer if possible.
Over the course of the treatment, eggs and pupae will continue to go through the life cycle stages, eventually emerging as adult fleas.
As the insecticide has a residual effect, it will kill the newly-formed fleas.
If you clean your carpet, you'll be in danger of eliminating the residual insecticide which will lead to a failed treatment.
Finding a pest controller to get rid of fleas
Use a trained professional pest controller call us on 01269 844503 / 07772 289648 or email us on [email protected]