- Colour Dark brown
- Size 2.5 mm long
- Also known as Siphonaptera
- Description Fleas are one of the most important insect pests because they inflict painful bites, are nuisances to pet owners, and are capable of transmitting disease-causing pathogens to both humans and pets. They are ectoparasites that survive by feeding on bird and mammalian blood. The most common species of fleas encountered by people are the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis), dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis), and human flea (Pulex irritans).
Why do I have fleas?
Fleas are sometimes forced inside homes due to prolonged periods of excessively wet weather. Fleas can gain entry into homes by attaching themselves to common household pets. Once inside, the parasites tend to gravitate toward places frequented by potential host animals. Pet beds, as well as cracks and crevices, make popular harbourage sites for fleas.
How worried should I be about fleas?
Fleas can wreak havoc on people and household pets. A severe untreated infestation can kill a cat or dog, but not before the animal undergoes serious suffering. Other medical conditions caused by fleas include bartonellosis (cat scratch fever), feline anemia, and flea allergies. If a preferred host is unreachable, adult fleas often jump to the first warm-blooded animal that it finds. Most notably, fleas are historically known as carriers of the plague. Fleas are also intermediate hosts of dog and rodent tapeworms; they can transmit the worms to humans and pets.
How can I prevent fleas invading?
One of the best ways to prevent a flea infestation is to generally maintain a clean household by steam-cleaning the carpets. The cleaning method works due to the fact that fleas spend up to 90 percent of time away from hosts in furniture or carpeting. Steam cleaning effectively kills fleas in all developmental stages. A comprehensive cleaning will also eliminate any risk of flea infestation in buildings where the parasites might not be apparent due to their ability to go without food for months at a time. Owners of cats or dogs should thoroughly and regularly inspect pets for fleas. Over-the-counter and vet-prescribed products are available to treat flea infestations on pets, though it also remains imperative to treat the entire house for flea removal. A pest control professional should be contacted to perform such treatments. Regardless, an appropriate, off-the-shelf product can be used for treatment based on label instructions. In addition to targeting fleas directly, look for and remove the nests of wild animals on the property. The removal of unwelcome nests helps eliminate fleas and allows pets to roam freely. For assistance in properly handling and removing a flea infestation, contact a pest control specialist.
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