How to get rid of fleas when you suspect or see fleas in the house:
1. Identify the source of the Flea problem. Is it from a cat or a dog?
2. Treat the animal at the same time as you treat the house with a registered flea treatment. These are available from any pet store or vet clinic.
3. Carry out a thorough vacuum of the house before treatment including areas under furniture, animal bedding and where animals rest. Dispose of vacuum cleaner contents immediately.
4. Treat carpets and flooring with a surface spray using a registered insecticide.
5. Spot treat any adult fleas with an aerosol spray.
Fleas can be pests in homes, hotels, motels and wherever human populations occur in areas shared with animals. They all have piercing and sucking mouth parts used to draw blood from their host. They can transmit diseases to other humans and animals, and are therefore seen as important pests both in the medical and veterinary areas. An understanding of the habits and life cycles of fleas is important in their prevention and control.
APPEARANCE, LIFE CYCLE & HABITS
Adult fleas vary in size, but are typically 1-2 mm long, brown in colour and have compressed laterally bodies (meaning very thin) so that they can move freely between the hairs of their animal hosts. Larvae are tiny and legless, with hairs on their bodies. They have chewing mouthparts and feed on food particles and blood faecal pieces from adult fleas. The adult female may lay hundred of eggs in her lifetime, but usually about four to eight eggs after each blood meal. The eggs are laid on the animal and these fall of onto floors, the ground and often in its sleeping and resting area. The eggs hatch in four to ten days. The areas surrounding a house can also be a significant source of fleas.
The larvae feed on many forms of organic matter which can be found in carpets and other floor coverings and well as outside in lawns. When finished feeding and fully grown, usually after 12-20 days, the larvae pupate in silken cocoons which are often covered with debris. After about seven to ten days the adults emerge and seek a blood meal from the host. These stages may extend for many months depending on the availability of food.
Warm and humid conditions such as those which occur in summer and autumn favour the development of flea larvae, pupae and adults. Flea pupae may remain in floor coverings and cracks in flooring for several months and often the adults emerge from their cases when vibration occurs. This typically happens when a house is vacated during holidays and when the family returns the vibration from walking fractures the pupal cases. The adult fleas then seek blood meals from the legs nearby
The main pest flea in domestic situations are:
This flea is similar to other fleas and has a wide range of hosts, but has been encountered much less during recent years.
The cat flea also has a wide range of hosts from cats, dogs, humans and other animals. It is the most encountered species in much of Australia.
ORIENTAL RAT FLEA
The roof rat is the preferred host of the rat flea.
This flea also attacks animals such as dogs, cats, pigs as well as humans, however an attack is less now than in previous years.
FLEAS & DISEASE
Fleas are one of the most significant conveyers of diseases to humans and also some animals. Over the last one thousand years countless millions of people have died because of this transmission of diseases by fleas.
This flea-bourne disease caused the deaths of millions during the Middle Ages. The disease organism is the bacterium Yersinia pestis which is usually carried by rats, mostly the roof rat. It is passed on from one rat to another by fleas then to humans. The flea species which is the main vector of the plague is the oriential rat flea. Australia has not been troubled with this disease for at least fifty years.
Murine or endemic typhus
This disease is also transmitted mainly by the oriental rat flea. The micro-organism which causes this disease condition is Rickettsia typhi. When the flea bites a human it leaves faeces behind, carrying the micro-organism. When the bite is scratched, the infected faeces of the flea contaminates the wound.
The dog tapeworm is carried between dogs by fleas. Rodent tapeworm is passed on to other rodents when the fleas are infected Children also have occasionally been infested by these tapeworms.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Fleas produce a severe form of allergic dermatitis in dogs and cats. Some animals are more susceptible to this form of dermatitis than others. Flea control is important in the prevention of this condition.
CONTROL METHODS TO GET RID OF FLEAS
The householder can successfully control fleas even if animals share the same living area. Control falls into two categories, one complementing the other: non-chemical preventive methods and chemical methods.
Non Chemical Preventive Method
The breeding areas for fleas from animal pets can be significantly reduced by washing floors and vacuuming carpets, including under furniture and areas where animals my rest. Animal beddings should be removed daily and shaken well away from the home, or left in the sun to remove eggs.
The contents of the vacuum cleaner should be heat-treated in a black bag and put in the sun for a few hours. It may also be treated with an aerosol spray before being emptied. The vacuum cleaner and bag must not be stored in a partially full or full condition as the environment created inside the bag is idea for flea breeding.
A thorough vacuuming is important to reduce any flea population before going on holidays.
When there are pet in the house, the animal should be treated at the same time as the house. Treatment of animals is usually done with product specifically registered for that purpose. Generally these are either powders or washes. Insecticidal collars on animals may be used to obtain long-term control.
Systemic insecticides may be administered to pets. Fleas die when consuming blood containing the insecticide.