Most people associate fleas with their family pets; however, fleas can feed on any warm-blooded animal, even humans. Fleas do not have wings, so they can’t fly. They move around by jumping with their very powerful legs. It’s estimated that an adult flea can jump as far as 12 inches or more, which is more than 150 times their height. They also move around by traveling on their ‟host.” This is the animal or human they have chosen for their blood meal. In fact, the female adult flea spends most of her life on the host animal feeding on their blood and laying up to hundreds of eggs per day.
Because of their ability to travel with the host animal, they can be transported to a vast number of different areas.
Although there are many different types of fleas, most have the same general characteristics. Fleas have a flattened or pancake-shaped body, making it easy for them to move through the hair of their host. They also possess backward shaped hairs and spines on their legs that allow them to grasp on to animals. Have you ever tried to pull a flea off your dog? It’s almost impossible! Most species of fleas are tan to reddish-brown in color. They have a very strong outer shell covering their body called an exoskeleton which makes it difficult for us to crush them between our fingers. Oftentimes the flea jumps away unscathed.
• Limit the amount of time your pet spends outdoors.
• Limit contact with wild and stray animals.
• Bathe and brush pets regularly.
• Check for fleas regularly.
o Around the tail
o Neck and around the collar
o Back of rear legs
o Groin and Belly
• Fleas prefer warmer and more humid months, but if there is an animal to feed on, fleas can survive year-round.
• Talk to your veterinarian about flea control products that are right for your pet.
• Treat pets for fleas year-round in order to kill adult fleas and prevent new ones from hatching.
• Always follow product instructions.
The best way to prevent fleas on people is to keep pets free of fleas. Most fleas in the United States prefer to feed on animals, however, people are sometimes bitten out of convenience when they share space or encounter a flea-infested animal.
• Use insect repellent
• Covering skin with long-sleeve clothing and pants will minimize exposure to bites. Flea bites often occur on the lower legs and feet, protect these areas with long socks and pants.
• Do not feed or pet stray or wild animals.
• Always wear gloves if you are handling sick or dead animals
Fleas can live in carpets, bedding, and other surfaces in the home where pets frequent.
To prevent an infestation:
• Sweep or vacuum well and often. Vacuum your carpets and rugs as well as cushions on chairs and sofas. Be sure to empty the vacuum bag outside when finished.
• Clean bedding, especially pet bedding, frequently with soap and water.
To prevent flea infestations, make your yard as unattractive to fleas as possible by:
• Mowing frequently. Mowing exposes the soil to the sun, which fleas try to avoid.
• Avoid over-watering. Fleas thrive in humid environments so keeping the yard dry makes it less inviting.
• Treating dog runs with insecticides to make them less prone to fleas.
• Keep rodents and animals (e.g. opossums) away from your home
o Store food, including pet food, in tight sealing containers.
o Remove brush, rock piles, junk, and cluttered firewood outside of your home.
o Seal up holes in your home where rodents can enter.
o Keep tight lids on compost and trash cans.
Additionally, wild and stray animals commonly carry fleas. Put away pet food to discourage stray animals from hanging around your home and limit your pet’s contact with wild and stray animals.
Fleas infesting your home, your yard, or your pets can be very annoying. Some pets are very sensitive to flea bites causing them to bite and scratch almost uncontrollably, which can lead to skin irritations, sores, and loss of hair.
If you suspect fleas in your home, call us to schedule an inspection and help you develop a plan to solve the problem.