Sunday, December 17, 2017

Fleas In Your Home

November 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Home Maintenance, Pest Control, Pets

Fleas are wingless insects (1/16 to 1/8-inch (1.5 to 3.3 mm) long) that are agile, usually dark coloured (for example, the reddish-brown of the cat flea), with tube-like mouth-parts adapted to feeding on the blood of their hosts. Their legs are long, the hind pair well adapted for jumping: a flea can jump vertically up to 7 inches (18 cm) and horizontally up to 13 inches (33 cm), making the flea one of the best jumpers of all known animals (relative to body size), second only to the froghopper. According to an article in Science News, “researchers with the University of Cambridge in England have shown that fleas take off from their tibiae and tarsi—the insect equivalent of feet—and not their trochantera, or knees. The researchers report their conclusion in the March 1 Journal of Experimental Biology.”

It has been known that fleas do not use muscle power but energy stored in a protein named resilin but the researchers used high-speed video technology and mathematical models to discover where the spring action actually happens. Their bodies are laterally compressed, permitting easy movement through the hairs or feathers on the host’s body (or in the case of humans, under clothing). The flea body is hard, polished, and covered with many hairs and short spines directed backward, which also assist its movements on the host. The tough body is able to withstand great pressure, likely an adaptation to survive attempts to eliminate them by mashing or scratching. Even hard squeezing between the fingers is normally insufficient to kill a flea.
It is possible to eliminate them by pressing individual fleas with adhesive tape or softened beeswax (or “cheese” wax) or by rolling a flea briskly between the fingers to disable it then crushing it between the fingernails. Fleas also can be drowned in soapy water.

Fleas lay tiny white oval-shaped eggs better viewed through a loupe. The larva is small, pale, has bristles covering its worm-like body, lacks eyes, and has mouthparts adapted to chewing. The larvae feed on various organic matter, especially the feces of mature fleas. The adult flea’s diet consists solely of fresh blood. In the pupa phase, the larva is enclosed in a silken, debris-covered cocoon.

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. in 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 centre (similar to a mosquito bite). The bites often appear in clusters or lines of two bites, 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.

For the home

Combating a flea infestation in the home takes patience because for every flea found on an animal, there could be many more developing in the home. A spot-on insecticide will kill the fleas on the pet and in turn the pet itself will be a roving flea trap and mop up newly hatched fleas. The environment should be treated with a fogger or spray insecticide containing an insect growth regulator, such as pyriproxyfen or methoprene to kill eggs and pupae, which are quite resistant against insecticides. Frequent vacuuming is also helpful, but the vacuum bag must be disposed of immediately afterwards.

http://www.orkin.com/other/fleas/

Diatomaceous earth can also be used as a home flea treatment in lieu of acetylcholinesterase inhibitory treatments or insecticides which carry with them a risk of poisoning for both humans and animals. However, Diatomaceous earth is at least potentially dangerous to pets and people when inhaled, so care in use is recommended. Application is effective on both the interior and exterior of one’s property, but the efficacy of Diatomaceous earth is diminished when introduced to water. Because Diatomaceous earth is commonly available in food grade quality, it is also possible to leave it exposed in areas typically vulnerable to fleas and other insects.

Baking Soda is also used to kill via dehydration, it’s available in large amounts as a food grade material and safe for family and pets when used inside the home (carpets and floors) a layer can be sprinkled onto a carpet and worked into the fibers down to where the larvae and eggs are to dehydrate and kill them. It can be easily vacuumed up afterwards with safe disposal… often multiple weekly treatments will be required to remove an infestation completely.

Table Salt Can also be used inside the home in the same way as or in combination with Baking Soda as a low cost and safe method of breaking their life cycle.
Dried pennyroyal has been suggested as a natural flea control, but is not recommended in homes with pets due to its high toxicity to mammals.
Borax is sold as a “Natural Laundry Booster” and can also be used as another home treatment for flea infestations. Borax contains sodium borate which kills fleas by dehydrating them, but its safety for pets is untested.

Using dehumidifiers with air conditioning and vacuuming all may interrupt the flea life cycle. Humidity is critical to flea survival. Eggs need relative humidity of at least 70–75% to hatch, and larvae need at least 50% humidity to survive. In humid areas, about 20% of the eggs survive to adulthood; in arid areas, less than 5% complete the cycle. Fleas thrive at higher temperatures, but need 70° to 90°F (21° to 32°C) to survive. Lower temperatures slow down or completely interrupt the flea life-cycle. A laboratory study done at the University of California showed that vacuuming catches about 96% of adult fleas. A combination of controlled humidity, temperature, and vacuuming should eliminate fleas from an environment. Altering even one of these environmental factors may be enough to drastically lower and eliminate an infestation.

Get Rid of Fleas: Flea Control
Flea infestations require multi-faceted treatment plans. Addressing a pet’s infestation or individual flea bites will not prove effective for ridding your home of fleas. Effective flea control should encompass both chemical and natural methods and should be conducted on your pet as well as inside and outside of your home. Of course the primary plan of action should be to examine your pet daily. Catching fleas early will hamper their effect on your pets and in your house.
Fleas are not the only pests that can cause discomfort to your pet. Contacting your veterinarian and pest control professional will help you determine if the problem impacting your pet is fleas. They will encourage you before they arrive to ensure that your home is clean: vacuum thoroughly, sweep and mop hard-surfaced floors, wash all bedding and linens and clear the floor of debris.
After taking these steps, your pest control professional will administer proper treatment to infested locations within and outside of your home. Your pest control professional may ask you to complete other tasks around your home in preparation for treatment. They can also help advise you on ways to prevent future flea incursions and the best shampoos once fleas are on your pets.

                    

Comments are closed.