All you need to know about fleas and how to treat them
With a very fast breeding cycle, they will quickly take over, often living in fabrics and carpets. If you’re itching and suspect fleas, here is everything you need to know about flea bites.
What are fleas?
Fleas are tiny insects that can be hard to detect unless their bites are noticeable. Fleas are about a quarter of an inch in length and appear flat from the tip of their head to their middle. They do not have wings, but their long hind legs are designed for jumping.
Fleas have a typical life cycle for an insect. Feeding on the blood of a host creature, such as a family dog or cat, is vital to its reproductive cycle.
Adult female fleas lay eggs on their host animal after feeding on blood. These eggs are not attached to the host in any way. Eventually, they will fall off and hatch. Eggs can be found in animal bedding, carpet, and on fabrics.
Within around 2 to 12 days, the eggs will hatch and begin developing as larvae. This might occur in the bedding or favourite resting spot of a household pet. Larvae will avoid light and burrow deep into carpet and live off the shed skin of pets or humans. It is possible that in unfavourable conditions, fleas can remain as larvae for up to 200 days before maturing.
After around 4 to 24 days in the larval stage, the fleas will begin to change into pupae, or cocoons. The fully developed larvae will spin their cocoons and rest until they are ready to emerge as adult fleas. Vibrations in their environment will cause them to complete the pupae cycle and emerge. This can be caused by people walking through the home.
At this stage, the adult flea will seek higher ground to have the best access to potential hosts. Outdoors, they will jump to the top of blades of grass. In the house, they may choose curtains or furniture. Once they jump onto a host, they will feed and repeat the reproductive cycle. Adult fleas can live for a year or longer if they have access to a food source.
A flea’s primary food source is the blood of their host. Newly emerged adult fleas are hungry and will find whatever warm-blooded host they can as quickly as possible. This is why flea bites are sometimes found on the ankles of children and adults.
Most fleas that infest a home will be cat fleas or dog fleas. These fleas will usually spend their time with the family pet. The good news is there are loads of new highly-effective treatments on the market. If you would like more information on fleas and how best to treat them please call the surgery on 020 8599 8544 to speak to one of our team.