For many people, our pets are our best friends and one of the most valued members of our families. But when it comes to being a pet owner, there are many not-so-pleasant moments that we’ll probably encounter during our pet’s life. A flea infestation is one of them.
Fleas are the wingless, bloodsucking insects that live on the skin, fur, and hair of mammals and birds. They’re truly a nuisance for pets and for their owners, too. No matter how clean the owners keep their pets and homes, a flea infestation can still happen. In this article, we wanted to answer why this happens by starting with where fleas come from.
Even if you maintain the cleanest surroundings, your pet can still catch fleas. When that happens, you’ll probably ask yourself “How?” How did the fleas get inside? How did the fleas get onto my pet? Where did they come from?
So, let’s see if we can answer these questions.
What Are the Most Common Types of Fleas?
The fleas that are inside your home definitely came in from the great outdoors. They can’t survive in extreme heat, so they hide in shady, humid, and grassy areas. They somehow made their way indoors from there.
But this does not necessarily mean that only places with thick vegetation have fleas. Because of their size, even regular-sized lawns can hide fleas. So, if you notice fleas inside your home, there are probably fleas in your backyard, the dog park, or in any other grassy area that you and your animal visit.
For pets that only spend their time indoors, the chances of getting fleas are obviously lower. However, there is still some risk. So, here’s a list of some of the most common species of fleas that pet owners should be aware of:
- Cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis)
- Dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis)
- Sticktight flea (Echidnophaga gallinacea)
- Jigger flea or chigoe flea (Tunga penetrans)
- Human flea (Pulex irritans)
- European chicken flea (Ceratophyllus gallinae)
- Western chicken flea (Ceratophyllus niger)
Where Do Fleas Hide?
The next most question is: If there’s a constant risk of flea infestations, why are these creatures not immediately visible? Where do fleas hide? Why are they so hard to spot?
The best explanation for this is that even though you can’t see fleas crawling around in your pet’s fur, they are still there—only hidden. Before developing into adults, fleas stay in egg, larvae, or pupae form for quite some time. It’s much harder to notice these stages than adult fleas because they aren’t jumping around or biting your pet.
A single flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day. Within two weeks, these 50 eggs turn into crawling creatures that spread silently and rapidly. Their most beloved hiding spots in your home include rugs, carpets, cushions, and sitting areas as well as your pet’s bedding and pee pads. They’ll find their way to any other furry, moist, or shady place that isn’t vacuumed or cleaned on a regular basis.
The most important fact that all pet owners should know is that around 57% of all the fleas in your home are still in the larval stage. As a survival strategy, these larvae create a cocoon around themselves. Within two to four weeks, they’ll have become adults, but these adults can stay in their cocoons for up to nine months.
They only come out of this dormant state when vibrations or carbon dioxide from a passing animal generate a specific change in pressure and temperature. This change in the flea’s environment acts as a stimulus to make the adult fleas leave their cocoons and start feeding on their hosts. So, preventative flea treatments are a good idea—even after eradicating a flea infestation—to make sure that all dormant fleas are killed and won’t bother you or your pet.
Where Do Fleas Come From in an Already Treated Area?
This is another mystery that keeps pet owners on the edge. Even when a pet owner takes all the precautions and disinfects their pet and home using a flea treatment, a flea infestation can still happen. It might not happen right away, but after a few weeks or months, the fleas can reappear.
The answer to this question is a bit more technical. This usually happens when the fleas that are attacking your pet are immune to the specific insecticide you used. Just as bacteria can become immune to certain types of antibiotics over time, fleas can become immune to pesticides.
So, how can you deal with this?
Simply change the product you’re using to keep your flea infestation in check. Do this periodically or the fleas will become immune to that particular product as well. You can also use a flea sterilizer instead. Make sure to consult a vet or a pest professional before using this type of product, though.
A Few Tips on How To Best Control Fleas
Finally, the most efficient way to get rid of the fleas is through a full-on flea control and management strategy. For that, we’ve collected a few tips on how to best control fleas to help you get rid of fleas in your home.
- Use flea medication and flea comb on your pet. This will help you deal with the fleas more quickly and will help prevent a larger infestation.
- Keep your home and your outdoor area clean. This will, again, help you avoid a full-blown flea infestation.
- Wash your pet’s bedding frequently. You should also vacuum your home often, especially the areas where your pet hangs out. Vacuuming is one of the best flea prevention measures since it can remove up to 30% of all flea larvae and up to 60% of flea eggs from carpets, furniture, cushions, and the crevices in wood floors.
- Keep the perimeter of your house clean, dry, and well maintained. Trim the vegetation around your home, mow the lawn regularly, and treat your backyard with insecticide. This will also reduce the risks of a flea infestation.
Lastly, if an infestation has already happened, make sure you use various flea control options, such as flea traps, sprays, and powders. You can even introduce predatory nematodes into your soil, which will also help you deal with your flea infestation.