Let’s not beat around the bush here: fleas are annoying, irritating, frustrating and all manner of different adjectives, but one thing is for sure, they are harder to kill than Steven Seagal. Successfully fighting off a flea infestation requires careful and comprehensive planning; all it takes is a few eggs left in your carpet to set off a whole new infestation. This article will give you the blueprint to leave those fleas deader than the henchmen in a Steven Seagal movie.
- Adult fleas represent only about 5% of the total flea population.
- Adult fleas spend the majority of their time on the animal and not in your pet’s bedding or carpet.
- Adult fleas can lay all of their eggs (over 20 per day) on the pet, however these eggs fall off easily as your pet moves around the house which complicates things as the eggs get distributed everywhere.
- After the eggs hatch, flea larvae, which resemble tiny worms, emerge. These larvae stay hidden in the carpet fibers or other protected areas and feed mainly on ‘flea dirt’ which is dried adult flea feces (and to think you complained when your parents made you eat your vegetables).
- After they have eaten enough, the larvae enter the pupal stage, weaving a cocoon that is waterproof and insecticide resistant. The amount of time a larva spends in the pupal stage is variable; in fact vibrations can cause immediate hatching.
Treatment of Home
If your pet is an indoor pet, then treatment of the home is a must. Treating your pet and its bedding is not sufficient as the eggs will be scattered wherever your pet roams through the house. Those are the areas that you want to focus on more. This is a pretty tedious and comprehensive process, but we will break it down into two components.
- Thorough Cleaning – Pick up as many disposable items and furniture from your carpets as much as possible. Give everything a thorough washing in warm soapy water, especially your pet’s bedding. If your flea problem is really bad, it may be best to simply discard your pet’s bedding altogether. The next step is vacuuming, which is extremely important. Vacuums can not only get adult fleas, but can even suck up eggs, larvae, and pupae as well. In addition, the pressure and vibrations from the vacuum can even cause pupae to hatch into adults, leaving them vulnerable to the next component of insecticide application. The vacuuming action also raises the fibers of the carpet up, meaning that insecticides will be able to penetrate deeper. As long as your flea problem persists, we recommend giving your home a thorough vacuuming at least every other day.
- Insecticide Application – There are numerous products to choose from when it comes to off the shelves insecticide products. While they may all be broadly classed as ‘insecticides’ some of them are actually insecticides while others are actually insect growth regulators, which will not kill fleas but prevent development into the adult stage. Most formulations use a combination of the two. Insecticides generally come in aerosol and liquid forms, and while both are just as effective, we recommend the use of aerosols as it sticks to surfaces better and is just overall much more convenient. Some insecticides are highly toxic to animals (e.g. permethrin is highly toxic to cats) so please read the labels extremely carefully. You will need two treatments, spaced several weeks apart, to eliminate fleas that were in the pupal stage during the first treatment.
Treatment of Pet
Your pet, as the attractant of the fleas in the first place, needs to be treated before or in conjunction with your home. Remember, while adult fleas only represent 5% of the flea population, they spend most of their time on your pet and will continue to lay eggs. You can opt to treat your pet yourself or send them to a veterinarian to be treated. Obviously the vet option is much more effective, however if that is not a financially viable option, then you have no choice but to treat your pet yourself. Read this guide on how to get rid of fleas on dogs. I followed the steps recommended and managed to completely remove all the fleas on my dog.
Fortunately there are many over the counter medications that you may use such as insecticidal soaps, flea sprays, flea dips, and flea dust. While some of them use some of the same active ingredients as the insecticides you apply in your home, in general these are a lot less concentrated. Also, just like the above, different species of pet are sensitive to different types of insecticides, so again it is very important that a careful reading of labels is performed prior to any application on your pet.