Sound advice essential for complete flea control.
Fleas are a major cause of irritation to domestic animals and pet owners.
On-pet flea control products are often used with the expectation that they will be all that is required to control a flea outbreak. But unfortunately because of the nature of the flea life cycle there is a massive reservoir of eggs and larvae in the environment which may be hundreds of times larger than the population of adult fleas we see on our pets. Therefore it is necessary to get the fleas under control both on our pets and in the environment.
The dog flea and the cat flea are both able to live on either dogs or cats and are both able to use humans as an intermediary in their life cycle. In Australia the cat flea is the most dominant.
Both adult males and adult females are parasitic. they feed exclusively on blood, ingesting up to 20 times their own weight. The blood intake is only partially digested and passes quickly through the fleas’ short gastro-intestinal tract and is deposited in the coat as a fine excrement.
The flea life cycle
Fleas have a life cycle which can, be extremely rapid – taking as little as two weeks under ideal conditions.
- Eggs – During this time the female can lay from 300 to 500 eggs in several batches in the host animal’s coat or in the environment. Baskets, kennels, carpet or resting places outdoors can become heavily loaded with eggs.
Depending on temperature conditions a minimum of three days to to a maximum of three weeks normally pass before larvae hatch from the eggs.
- Larvae – The larvae are about 6mm long, covered with bristles. They are sensitive to light, so they tend to live in darker places. Such as along carpet edges near skirting boards, in floor cracks, in animal bedding, under furniture and in soil. They feed on organic matter present in that area.
There are three levels of larval stages: At the third stage the larvae envelope themselves into a cocoon forming pupae.
- Pupae – are very difficult to see because of the soil particles dust and fibres adhere to the surface providing camouflage.
Under warm conditions this pupal stage can take only one or two weeks, but in colder condition it can take up to several months
In the absence of the animal a large proportion of the pupae remain dormant. Certain environmental stimuli, especially vibration caused by other animals or occupants of the house, induce the pupae to hatch and the adult flea to emerge from the cocoon.
- Adults – are not sensitive to light and can move around quite easily in the environment to locate a host. Once on the host they repeatedly take blood meals. Once feed, the adult females commence the laying of the eggs. The unfed adults which hatch from the pupal cases are small and black (known by some as the ground flea).