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How to keep your pets...

Flea Free

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As spring fast approaches, all of the insects that like to bite us wake up from their winter slumber. One of the most pernicious of these pests, ranking as high as bed bugs and ticks, is the flea. If you have pets, the likelihood that you will encounter fleas in your home increases ten fold. Understanding how fleas get into your home will help you protect your family, and pets, from fleas in the future.

To begin with, it’s important to realize that fleas (due to the nature of their food) need to find an animal host to dine out on. Whether this is you or your pets or both will be specific to the flea species you encounter. While some fleas found on pets have the capacity to bite humans, they don’t have the ability to procreate without their specific non-human host animal of choice.

Once on a host, fleas can produce a staggering number of eggs, sometimes as many as 50 per day. It may come as a surprise that rather than adhering to the host animal, these eggs tend to slip off, accumulating what many people refer to as “flea dirt” or “flea dust”. If a hatched flea is unable to find a host animal in close proximity (as they are unable to jump at this stage in their development), they will not develop through their larval stages.

This may seem like an odd development cycle for a pest, as there is in many cases tremendous attrition for the number of eggs produced. On the other hand, by spreading “flea dirt” everywhere the chances of finding another host animal are maximized, which is why it’s important to recognize symptoms in your pet immediately. The longer you wait, the more eggs you’ll have to contend with.

Are fleas dangerous?

In the case that a hatched flea is able to find a blood meal from a host animal, they will begin to develop through their larval stages. After spinning a cocoon and metamorphosing from a pupa to an adult, the flea exits the cocoon in the form we commonly recognize them by. Key to the success of an adult flea is the ability to jump half a foot vertically, and over a foot horizontally. Meaning they are able to pounce if they see a suitable host animal.

If you see fleas on your pet, remember that it isn’t just cause for alarm because your cat or dog is suffering. It may actually be a sign of other pests in your home. There is a commonly underappreciated connection between fleas, rats, and mice. Because rats and mice carry fleas, if they invade your home they can easily shed flea eggs everywhere without your knowledge. When your pet comes in contact with this “flea dirt”, the fleas will develop and infestations can occur.

The key takeaway here is that fleas on your pet may only be the symptom of a larger pest issue.

If you find yourself in the middle of an infestation of rats or mice, you’ll want to make sure to call a professional for methodical detection and removal. Rats and mice can carry all kinds of diseases not directly associated with fleas, which is why you should treat such infestations seriously.

Cat fleas in particular can be incredibly resistant to attempts at removal. If you’re treating your pets with store-bought products, they will be just as susceptible after the products wear off as before you applied them in the first place. And if it is indeed linked to an unrealized rodent infestation, you will find yourself in the middle of an unending cycle of treatments and headaches.

Remember: all it takes is a single drop of “flea dirt” to start the infestation all over again. Which is why we recommend calling your local pest control professionals. Cat fleas are a nuisance, but rat-borne diseases are a nightmare.

Better to be safe than sorry.

What should I do next?

Give us a call at (269) 424-3458. We’d be happy to walk you through both the removal AND prevention process. Once we’ve correctly identified and eliminated all pest problems, we’ll provide you with a series of preventive next steps to ensure you don’t experience a re-infestation.

We’re here to assist! Give us a call at (269) 424-3458!