HOW TO GET RID OF FLEAS
When it comes to fleas, pet owners are willing to do just about anything to get rid of them. And these six-legged beasts are more than just a pain in the Lassie, their reproductive powers make them downright frightening for pets and people who wear shorts, alike. The more time a flea infestation is allowed to take hold, the more difficult it will be for you to regain your sanity.
Though there are more than 2,000 species of fleas in the world, the Ctenocephalides felis, or cat flea, species is the most common pest problem for Southern California pets and their owners. The odds are, in fact, that your dog has cat fleas, which, of course, should make no sense. The cat flea has the ability to jump up to three feet. Making it up to your dog or cat’s sagging belly is no great feat for even the fattest flea that smokes a pack a day. Your dog then brings a couple of the tiny monsters inside, and your So-Cal home becomes a sub-tropical singles resort for fleas – 70 to 80 degrees, coastal humidity and live, warm bodies with which they can mingle. Just a roast pig away from a luau.
A cat flea will mate up to three or four times during the course of its adult life – a short three or four months. The female will lay a few eggs each day until she has delivered to your home up to FOUR HUNDRED of the bouncing, bundles of carnivorous terror. The eggs can hatch in as little as two days and the newborn fleas can be ready to produce offspring, themselves, in just two weeks (weather and suitors permitting).
Perhaps the most disturbing characteristic of fleas, though, is their penchant for blood – often human. They possess a sharp, straw-like mouth that they can force through the skin and into the blood stream of mammals in order to draw out the blood. The itchiness that you feel when you have been bitten by a flea comes from an anti-coagulant that fleas inject to ensure you don’t cut off the meal before they’re done. It is this anti-coagulant that also causes the redness and swelling of the skin.
So really, the life of a flea is not that unlike the life of, say, certain creatures you have invented in your worst nightmares. They start out as eggs and then they hatch into a disgusting larva that will eat the fecal blood pellets of adult fleas. When they get tired of looking like maggots, they move into the pupa, or cocoon, stage. Once inside this tight cocoon, the flea is protected and safe from the world. Pesticide sprays, flea bombs, boric acid – nothing can get in and affect this one stage of the flea’s development which can last up to five or six months. Often, people will think they have wiped out a flea problem inside their home, and then they might leave for a while, or go on vacation.
Then, Mistake #1, they return.
They find that the fleas are biting now more than ever. And there are two reasons for this. One: Fleas are more resilient than Godzilla. Two: Fleas have a documented ability to sense, from within the cocoon, the renewed presence of warm-blooded animals. This is generally achieved through the flea’s recognition of heightened carbon dioxide levels and the presence of substantial movement and vibration. As soon as this information has been transmitted to their little flea brains, the pests break out of their protective cocoon and enter the adult and final stage of their life cycle.
Historically, for both the novice flea slaughterer and experienced pest control service alike, killing fleas within the home has largely been a hit and miss proposition, due mainly to the impenetrable cocoon of the pupa. Now, though, technology has finally caught up with the thinking of the flea – whose thinking has probably not evolved one IQ point in the past million years. There are two revolutionary products available today that may soon make winning the war on fleas a reality.
The first on the scene was Precor, an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR). While many insecticides can wipe out the eggs, larva, and adult forms, Precor breaks the life cycle by mutating the first two stages of development, making it impossible for the flea to progress past the cocoon stage. Precor can be used solely or mixed with other insecticides to prevent fleas from ever becoming biting and blood-sucking adult pests. By destroying the circle of life for the fleas, their populations eventually die or move to New Jersey – whichever is less painful.
Once the area has been treated and the flea problem has been successfully controlled, we recommend that you place your pet in a small box with an air tube, never exposing him or her or it to the great outdoors ever again.
Well that’s one way, at least.
Another option may be to ask your vet to prescribe PROGRAM, a once-a-month oral flea control for dogs and cats. Similar in function to the IGR’s such as Precor, PROGRAM enters the pet’s bloodstream and becomes ingested by adult female fleas. PROGRAM’s active ingredient, Lufenuron, stops eggs from hatching and larva from maturing. Essentially, the pet’s blood becomes detrimental to the fleas’ pursuit of happiness and they jump instead onto the rats that live beneath your building.
But at least, Fido stops bringing the problem inside the home.
Effective flea management always begins with the elimination of the pests in the areas surrounding your property. Make sure that your pest control company will provide powerspray treatments for your yard to significantly cut down the likelihood of flea infestations.
There are millions of fleas in your community seeking a good home – with proper, pro-active planning on your part, that home could very well be someone else’s…
FLEA TIP: If fleas find their way into your home, their eggs will find their way into your carpet. Vacuum and toss the vacuum bag into the garbage. The next day, do it again. The next day, do it again. Continue vacuuming and removing the bag daily for a full week to dislodge all hangers-on.