What Are Fleas?
Fleas are parasitic insects that feed on the blood of a warm-blooded host. Fleas are about 3mm long and can range in color from brownish-red to nearly black. Their proportions make them taller than they are wide so they can easily crawl between the hairs of their chosen host. While they don’t have wings and therefore cannot fly, they can certainly jump. With two powerful back legs, fleas can jump about 100 times their own body length, meaning they can easily hop off of their host and invade your home.
Identifying The Species Of Flea
Fleas are surprisingly picky about their hosts. Many species will only breed on a single type of animal. Cat fleas feed on cats, dog fleas feed on dogs, bird fleas feed on birds, and so forth. Occasionally, these little vampires will accidentally bite the wrong host and drop off when they realize it was not the blood they were looking for. Knowing what host animal is bringing the infestation into the home can help a professional flea exterminator identify the species at hand.
Identifying the source of the flea infestation can also help a pest control expert detect other pest infestations that you might not even know you have. You might call us for flea spraying services and discover that you actually have a major rodent problem!
The Flea Life Cycle
A flea can complete its life cycle in just two weeks, but it can take much longer depending on the temperature and humidity. First, an adult flea will lay eggs on their chosen host. Those eggs are small, white, and very difficult to see. Because the eggs can easily fall off of the host, it is not uncommon for fleas to end up spread around the home.
The eggs will hatch into wriggly larvae within a few days. The larvae feed on feces from the adult fleas as well as other debris or food they can access. Larvae often bury themselves deep into the carpet or in crevices in order to hide.
After a few more days, the larvae will begin to form a cocoon around themselves called a pupa. This is where things get especially tricky when you search for flea treatment. Because the larvae have buried themselves, they are out of the reach of most bug sprays or flea treatments. Additionally, the flea can remain dormant in the pupa until it detects a food source which could be months or even years down the road.
When the conditions are right, the adult flea will emerge from the cocoon and begin feeding immediately after it makes contact with a host. Fleas feed constantly and will often remain on the same host for the rest of their life.
When Fleas Invade Your Home
Most people expect to find fleas on their furry pets. Perhaps you notice your cat or dog scratching themselves more than usual. Upon closer inspection, you find tiny black bugs crawling all over them. You take them to the vet, get them some Frontline or Advantix, and assume the flea problem will take care of itself.
Unfortunately, getting rid of fleas isn’t that easy and long-term relief often requires the help of a professional flea exterminator. If you find fleas on your pet, there are likely fleas and flea eggs scattered all around your home. While you might be able to offer your pet some temporary relief with a flea bath, the problem will likely return.
Many people who do not have pets, or whose pets appear to be flea-free, wonder how they could possibly have a flea infestation in their home. Fleas need a host to survive which can include household pets and well as common pests such as mice, rats, squirrels, raccoons, or birds. If these critters are living in the house, attic, or crawlspace, the fleas can find their way into your home or affect your yard.
Fleas and Disease
Fleas can transmit diseases to humans and animals, including typhus the bubonic plague. Some diseases can be transmitted to animals and then secondarily to humans, such as cat scratch fever. This is actually believed to be how the Black Death, a plague that wiped out nearly a third of Europe, was spread. Originally, rats were believed to be the culprit. However, recent studies have speculated that fleas fed on infected rats and then fed on humans, transferring the disease. While the plague may seem like a problem of the past, there are dozens of reported cases in the United States each year.
Signs Of A Flea Infestation
If Fido comes over for a pet and you notice small bugs crawling in his fur, he likely has fleas. Fleas are most easily spotted when there are multiple fleas together. However, you might also notice a lonely flea hopping around the carpet.
Pets Scratching Themselves Or Finding Bald Spots On Pets
Pets who seem to be endlessly scratching themselves likely have fleas or some type of skin condition. When a flea infestation on a pet gets bad, they will often scratch or chew their fur so much that it falls out, leaving patchy bald spots around their body. You might also notice this on your pet bird or chickens.
Finding Flea Droppings
Flea droppings look like fine black pepper and can be found in your pet’s fur or on their bedding. The best way to find this, as well as flea eggs, is to use a flea comb to brush your pet as the fine-toothed comb should be able to pick some of this waste up.
Itchy Flea Bites
Flea bites on humans look like small, red bumps. These bumps usually consist of a red dot where the actual bite occurred surrounded by a halo of reddened skin. Flea bites typically occur on the lower legs, ankles, and feet. This is because fleas will most often jump to a nearby piece of skin from the floor or from an infected dog or cat. If you notice these signs, you might need to call a flea control specialist for help.
Preventing Fleas In The Home
Many people are grateful to know that preventing fleas is easier than getting rid of them! Though, if you found this page by searching for a flea exterminator in Sacramento, it’s likely too late. Much like bed bugs, flea infestations happen quickly and are difficult to get rid of and are best avoided.
The best thing you can do to prevent fleas is to keep your home clean. Vacuuming regularly can help suck up any eggs, larvae, or fleas that might be in the carpet. Because flea larvae feed on organic matter, make sure to wipe up any food crumbs and vacuum your couch cushions often. If you have a pet, wash their bedding regularly on a hot cycle to ensure any eggs or fleas are killed.
If your pets are allowed outside, they might pick up fleas from an infected rodent or another pest. Make sure to check your pet for fleas often using a flea comb and a flashlight.
Finally, if you are moving into a new home or bringing furniture into your home, make sure to thoroughly inspect it for fleas.
How A Flea Control Company Can Help
If you’re experiencing a flea problem in Sacramento, Earthwise Pest Management can help you get it under control. Unfortunately, because fleas and their eggs are so hardy, getting rid of fleas is more difficult than simply taking your pup to the vet for some medication.
A flea problem inside of a home is notoriously difficult to remedy and takes the skill of a professional flea exterminator to manage. When you call us for flea control services in Sacramento or the surrounding area, we will begin by performing a thorough inspection to better understand where the fleas are coming from and why they like your home.
At Earthwise, we use a method of pest control called Integrated Pest Management, or IPM. This method works on finding the root cause of the problem so that we can prevent it in the future. Much like our name suggests, we also do our best to limit our use of harmful pesticides that can be hazardous to you, your pets, and the environment. By taking this well-rounded approach to pest control, our hope is that we can fix the problem permanently and not just put a Band-Aid over it.
If you are experiencing a flea problem in your home, business, or on your property, give Earthwise Pest Management a call today. We will be happy to provide you with a free pest control quote and take care of your flea extermination needs.