Fleas are blood-sucking parasites that can transmit diseases and tapeworms. Exposure to fleas can cause pets to become itchy and some pets even have severe reactions to flea bites. Humans may also become the target of hungry fleas. This is why it is crucial to prevent your pet from becoming a host for these parasites. In order to control the fleas in your home, it is important to understand the fleas’ life cycle.
Fleas begin as eggs that fall from infested animals. Two days to two weeks later, the eggs hatch into larvae and hide in carpeting, upholstery, and pets’ bedding indoors or in shady areas under decks and shrubs outdoors. Larvae mature into adult fleas inside a cocoon during the pupal stage. The new adult fleas emerge from the cocoon when they feel vibrations from pet or human movement or a vacuum cleaner. Now these adult fleas produce eggs and the life cycle begins again. By the time you notice fleas on your pet, the groundwork for the infestation has been going on for at least six to eight weeks. It is also important to know that adult fleas only make up five percent of the flea population. For every few fleas seen on your pet, there can be thousands of eggs, larvae, and pupae hiding in your carpet, upholstery, or bedding.
Even if you have not seen fleas on your pet, it is wise to keep them on monthly flea control products such as Frontline or Comfortis for dogs or Advantage Multi for cats. If you know or suspect your pet has fleas, you must break the fleas’ life cycle now. Start by giving all of your pets a safe, veterinarian-approved flea preventative. You must also treat cats that stay indoors because once fleas are in your house, your cat becomes a desirable host. The preventatives will kill the adults and dead fleas cannot produce more eggs. You may continue to see fleas on your pet even after the preventative is given because the immature fleas in the environment will still develop into adults. However, these fleas will soon be killed by the preventative if it is given or applied as directed. Vacuum floors and furniture and wash your pet’s bedding. It can take two to three months to completely rid the environment of a flea infestation. If the infestation is severe, there are sprays, such as Knock-Out, to treat the indoor environment.
Ridding your home of fleas can be frustrating. However, it can be done with some knowledge, reliable flea control products, diligence, and patience.