How to Eliminate Fleas from your Home
Image of flea life cycle: lifecycle-flea.jpg
It is important to understand the flea life cycle if you are going to be successful at treating a flea problem.
Fleas have four main stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The total flea life cycle can range from a couple of weeks to several months, depending on environmental conditions.
ADULT: The adult flea is flat from side to side with hair-like bristles on the body and 3 pairs of legs. The hind legs are used for jumping. Adult fleas prefer to live on the animal where they bite and take blood meals. The female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day, and hundreds to a thousand in a life cycle.
EGG: The eggs usually fall off of the animal into the carpet, bedding, floorboards, and soil. The flea egg can hatch, and larva emerge, anywhere from two days to a few weeks, depending on environmental conditions.
LARVA (plural = larvae): Larvae are about 1/4″ long, semi-transparent white, and actively move. They eat the feces of adult fleas (mostly dried blood from the animal they are biting) and other organic debris found in the carpet, bedding, and soil. Depending on the environmental conditions, the larval stage lasts about 5 to 18 days (longer in some cases) at which time the larva spins a silken cocoon and pupates.
PUPA (plural = pupae): The pupa is the last stage before adult. The adult flea can emerge from the cocoon in as early as 3 to 5 days, or it can stay in the cocoon for a year or more. Stimuli such as warm ambient temperatures, high humidity, even the vibrations and carbon dioxide emitted from a passing animal will cause the adult flea to emerge from the cocoon faster. The adult then actively seeks a blood meal from a passing animal and the life cycle continues.
The entire life cycle can vary based on the length of each stage. The cycle can be as short as two weeks or as long as two years. That is why it is so important to remain vigilant, even when a flea problem is thought to be under control! You must be sure to treat the pet AND the environment as well as choose products that control the life cycle at a number of stages.
Fleas on your pet:
At Westside Family Pet Clinic we recommend taking one of the following courses of action if fleas are found on your pet:
Capstar tablets: This product kills only the adult fleas that are on your pet currently. We can administer this product in the exam room and flea kill will begin within 30 minutes.
Frontline Plus: We will apply this product to the skin in the exam room after giving Capstar. It begins working in 24 hours and kills adult fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae, and prevents development of all flea stages. You must put this on once monthly thereafter and treat the environment to completely break the life cycle.
Ecto-Soothe 3X shampoo: We can shampoo your animal while you go home to treat your house, garage, and yard. If you prefer, you can take it home to shampoo your own animal. It is important that you shake the product well, lather your pet, and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
Frontline Plus: 48 hours after the flea bath, you can apply a dose of Frontline Plus which will then need to be repeated every 30 days.
We can work together to find the right combination of products that works for you and your pet.
Treating your pet’s environment:
If you do not aggressively treat the environment where your animal lives, you will continue to see fleas due to their fastidious life cycle.
Vacuuming – this is very important for picking up adults, eggs, larvae and pupae before they develop. Put a flea collar in the vacuum bag and/or throw the bag out after each vacuuming session; otherwise, the fleas will hatch, develop, and leave the vacuum to re-infest the living quarters.
Wash- all bedding, clothing, and removable furniture covers. It may be necessary to wash high-use bedding (pet beds, kennel blankets, etc) once weekly for a couple of months.
Apply insecticide – use an over the counter fogger (ie. Siphotrol premise spray) or contact a professional exterminator. Follow all instructions very carefully, remove all pets, people, and cover all food in the environment before applying insecticide, and make sure everything is dry and it is safe to return according to package directions. Take special precautions for pets and children – eating or putting items in their mouth, etc.