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Fleas 

 

Adult fleas are not only a nuisance to humans and their pets, but can cause medical problems including flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), tapeworms, secondary skin irritations and, in extreme cases, anemia.

Although bites are rarely felt, it is the resulting irritation caused by the flea salivary secretions that varies among individuals. Some may witness a severe reaction (general rash or inflammation) resulting in secondary infections caused by scratching the irritated skin area. Others may show no reaction or irritation acquired after repeated bites over several weeks or months.

Most bites usually found on the ankles and legs may cause pain lasting a few minutes, hours or days depending on one's sensitivity. The typical reaction to the bite is the formation of a small, hard, red, slightly-raised (swollen) itching spot. There is a single puncture point in the center of each spot. (Ants and spiders leave two marks when they bite. Mosquitoes, bees, wasps and bedbugs cause a large swelling or welt).

Fleas may transmit bubonic plague from rodent to rodent and from rodent to humans. Oriental rat fleas can transmit murine typhus (endemic typhus) fever among rats and from rats to humans. Tapeworms normally infest dogs and cats but may appear in children if parts of infested fleas are accidentally consumed.
 
Facts About Fleas
Fleas are small (1/16 to 1/8-inch (1.5 to 3.3 mm) long), agile, usually dark coloured (e.g. the reddish-brown of the cat flea), wingless insects with tube-like mouthparts adapted to feeding on the blood of their hosts. Their bodies are laterally compressed, (i.e., flattened side to side) permitting easy movement through the hairs (or feathers etc.) on the host's body. Their legs are long, the hind pair well adapted for jumping (vertically up to seven inches (18 cm); horizontally thirteen inches (33 cm)) - around 200 times their own body length, making the flea the best jumper out of all animals (in comparison to body size). The flea body is hard, polished, and covered with many hairs and short spines directed backward, allowing the flea a smooth passage through the hairs of its host. Its tough body is able to withstand great pressure, likely an adaptation to survive scratching etc. Even hard squeezing between the fingers is normally insufficient to kill the flea; it may be necessary to crush them between the fingernails or roll them between the fingers. Flea Anatomy

Fleas lay tiny white oval shaped eggs. Their larvae are small and pale with bristles covering their worm-like body. They are without eyes, and have mouthparts adapted to chewing. While the adult flea's diet consists solely of blood, their larvae feed on various organic matter including the feces of mature fleas. In the pupae phase the larvae are enclosed in a silken, debris covered cocoon.

Fleas are holometabolous insects, going through the four life cycle stages of embryo, larva, pupa and imago (adult). The flea life cycle begins when the female lays after feeding. Adult fleas must feed on blood before they can become capable of reproduction. Eggs are laid in batches of up to 20 or so, usually on the host itself, which easily roll onto the ground. As such, areas where the host rests and sleeps become one of the primary habitats of eggs and developing fleas. The eggs take around two days to two weeks to hatch.

Flea larvae emerge from the eggs to feed on any available organic material such as dead insects, feces and vegetable matter. They are blind and avoid sunlight, keeping to dark places like sand, cracks and crevices, and bedding. Given an adequate supply of food, larvae should pupate within 1-2 weeks. After going through three larval stages they spin a silken cocoon. After another week or two the adult flea is fully developed and ready to emerge from the cocoon. They may however remain resting during this period until they receive a signal that a host is near - vibrations (including sound), heat and carbon dioxide are all stimuli indicating the probable presence of a host. Fleas are known to overwinter in the larval or pupal stages

Once the flea reaches adulthood its primary goal is to find blood - adult fleas must feed on blood in order to reproduce. Adult fleas only have around a week to find food once they emerge, though they can survive two months to a year between meals. A flea population is unevenly distributed, with 50 percent eggs, 35 percent larvae, 10 percent pupae and 5 percent adults. Their total life cycle can take as little as two weeks, but may be lengthened to many months if conditions are favourable. Female fleas can lay 500 or more eggs over their life, allowing for phenomenal growth rates.

Fleas attack a wide variety of warm-blooded vertebrates including dogs, cats, humans, chickens, rabbits, squirrels, rats and mice. Fleas are a nuisance to their hosts, causing an itching sensation which in turn may result in the host attempting to remove the pest by biting, pecking, scratching etc the vicinity of the parasite. Fleas are not simply a source of annoyance, however. Some people and animals suffer allergic reactions to flea saliva resulting in rashes. Flea bites generally result in the formation of a slightly-raised swollen itching spot with a single puncture point at the center. The bites often appear in clusters or lines, and can remain itchy and inflamed for up to several weeks afterwards. Fleas can also lead to hair loss as a result of frequent scratching and biting by the animal, and can cause anemia in extreme cases. Flea Bites

 

Tips for controlling Fleas

The itching associated with flea bites can be treated with anti-itch creams, usually antihistaminics or hydrocortisone. Calamine lotion has been shown to lack any effect on itching. The fleas, their larvae, or their eggs can be controlled with insecticides. Lufenuron is a veterinary preparation (Program) that attacks the larval flea's ability to produce chitin but does not kill fleas. Flea medicines need to be used with care as many, especially the acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, also affect mammals. Popular brands of topicals that do not contain cholinesterase inhibitors include Advantage, Advantix, and Frontline and Frontline PLUS.

Combating a flea infestation in the home takes patience as for every flea found on an animal there are many more developing in the home. A spot-on insecticide, such as Advantage, Frontline or Revolution will kill the fleas on the pet and in turn the pet itself will be a roving fleatrap and mop up newly hatched fleas.

 

  • Remove all toys, clothing, and stored items from floors, under beds, and in closets. This step is essential so that all areas will be accessible for treatment.
  • Remove pet food and water dishes, cover fish tanks, and disconnect their aerators.
  • Wash, dry-clean or destroy all pet bedding.
  • Vacuum! -- vacuuming removes many of the eggs, larvae and pupae developing within the home. Vacuuming also stimulates pre-adult fleas to emerge sooner from their insecticide-resistant cocoons, thus hastening their contact with insecticide residues in the carpet. By raising the nap of the carpet, vacuuming improves the insecticide's penetration down to the base of the carpet fibers where the developing fleas live. Vacuum thoroughly, especially in areas where pets rest or sleep. Don't forget to vacuum along edges of rooms and beneath furniture, cushions, beds, and throw rugs. After vacuuming, seal the vacuum bag in a garbage bag and discard it in an outdoor trash container.

Insecticide Application - Once fleas become established in a home, insecticides are almost always needed to control them. Always read and follow label directions on the insecticide container. Other than the person performing the application, people and pets should be out of the house during treatment. People and pets should also remain off treated surfaces until the spray has dried. This may take several hours, depending on carpet type, ventilation and method of application. Opening windows and running the fan or air conditioner after treatment will enhance drying and minimize odor.

Many different products are available for home treatment. The most effective products are  NyGuard Plus Aerosol Flea Treatment Spray, Precor 2000 Plus  or  Ultracide . These products are effective against the biting adult stage, and to provide long-term suppression of the eggs, larvae and pupae. It is essential that the application be thorough and include all likely areas of flea development. Carpets, throw rugs, under and behind beds and furniture, and beneath cushions on which pets sleep should all be treated. Pay particular attention to areas where pets spend time or sleep, as these will be the areas where most flea eggs, larvae and pupae will be concentrated. For example, if the family cat sleeps within a closet, or hides under the bed, these areas must be treated or the problem will continue. Hardwood and tile floors generally do not require treatment, but should be thoroughly vacuumed.

Expect to see some fleas for 2 weeks or longer following treatment. Provided all infested areas were treated initially, these "survivors" are probably newly emerged adults which have not yet succumbed to the insecticide. Instead of retreating the premises immediately, continue to vacuum. As noted earlier, vacuuming stimulates the insecticide-resistant pupae to hatch, bringing the newly emerged adults into contact with the insecticide sooner. If adult fleas continue to be seen beyond 2-4 weeks, retreatment of the premises (and pet) may be necessary.

Below are some other flea products we have available. Please read the labels before purchasing and again before use.
 

 




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