Most pests have predictable times when their populations peak due to a host (no pun intended) of factors. And just in time for back-to-school season and our end-of-summer barbeques is one of our most annoying host-seeking insects, the flea.
Adult fleas are small 1/16th, wingless, flattened (compressed left to right) insects that feed on blood from a variety of hosts that include cats, dogs, mice, rats, chickens, rabbits, squirrels and as you may have unfortunately experienced people.
Female fleas lay typically 4-8 eggs after a blood meal (400-500 over a lifetime). These eggs aren’t sticky and fall off near where the host, most likely your faithful and loyal dog or aloof cat, spends most of their time. In 1-12 days (depending on environmental factors like temperature and humidity) eggs will hatch out into larvae. These tiny worm-like creatures will feed on dried fecal matter i.e. blood from adult fleas or a variety of organic matter in the environment.
Flea larvae don’t like light and bury down into carpet fibers or soil depending on where they are located, making control more difficult. Typically after 7-14 days, larvae reach full maturity and are ready to spin a cocoon and become adults. When fleas spin cocoons they incorporate nearby debris, especially carpet fibers (when located inside) thus protecting themselves from insecticides and making control even more challenging.
A flea will stay in this dormant, cocoon stage until it senses the presence of a host, usually through vibrations. Hence, many calls have been received from panicked homeowners or new residents to apartments that hundreds of fleas are attacking them despite the home or apartment being vacant for weeks on end.
How can you keep your yard and home Flea-Free this time of year?
Here are some tips:
Make sure your home is in good repair and there are no obvious animal entry points into crawl spaces or attics. Many homes have had flea issues with no pets, due to unwanted wildlife taking up residence in crawl spaces or attics.
Keep your pets on regularly scheduled flea treatments, whether they are oral or topical. (Consult your veterinarian for the best option for your pets)
Keep your yard trimmed and well-manicured to prevent inviting any unwanted wildlife into your yard. Don’t leave any pet food out overnight that may attract stray animals.
If you are having any flea problems or simply want a proactive approach to flea control, call Spencer Pest Services. Our trained technicians are able to identify conducive conditions, recommend modifications, and come up with an integrated plan to keep fleas away or kill the fleas that you do have in an environmentally responsible manner and keep them under control for years to come!