Did you know that fleas have life stages just like a butterfly: egg, larva, pupa, and adult? Adult fleas make up only about 5% of the population at any given time, but they are the most visible and will be the only ones you’ll find on your pets. The other 95% of the population exist as eggs, larvae and pupae. These flea stages can be hidden in the cracks and crevices of your floor, carpet, or outside in the soil.
If you have an infestation, you can sometimes find the white, worm-like larvae in floor cracks. These nasty little worms feed on the fecal matter of the adults. Think of the pupae as hibernating jack-in-the-boxes in your carpet. They remain as pupae, in suspended animation, until they sense carbon dioxide or vibration from a possible host when they pop out as hungry adults. Even worse, flea pupae are immune to insecticides. For a couple weeks after a flea treatment, you can still find new fleas hopping out of their pupal cases.
Use these tips below to help keep your house and pet flea free this year.
- Talk to your vet.To begin with, consult your veterinarian to find an on-pet treatment that best suits your needs. Don’t just purchase a medication through the internet or over-the-counter. You may risk ending up with mislabeled packaging and non-regulated ingredients.
- Talk to your pest control company. Since most of the fleas are not even on the pet, you have to remember to treat the pet’s environment. Most pest control companies don’t think to treat the pet’s environment until their clients call with a flea problem. Several years ago, we introduced a flea pre-treatment program that involves an outside only treatment using an insect growth regulator. We have had such good luck with this strategy that it comes with a 1-year re-treatment warranty. This type of treatment really compliments your veterinarian’s on-pet treatment. In fact, your veterinarian may be a good place to get a recommendation for a pest control company.
- Keep it clean. Frequently washing your pet’s bedding and vacuuming carpets and furniture can really help keep fleas from getting started. If a pest control company is coming to treat, you should also clear and clean all your floors, remove clutter, toys, pet food and water dishes from areas to be treated. After treatment, continue to vacuum frequently to get those last few hatching pupae. Remember to empty the canister or throw the bag away in an outdoor receptacle so there’s no chance of them getting back into the house.
Treating your pet is just the beginning of an effective flea prevention program. It’s also important to keep your home and yard flea free for the health and comfort of your furry friends and family.
Dr. Scott Lingren, Entomologist