Fleas (siphonaptera)

Features and habits

There are many many different types of fleas but the main ones we come into contact with are the cat flea, the dog flea and the bird flea. Each flea has to feed on its normal host species before it is able to breed with the possible exception of the cat flea. They are a reddish brown going slightly darker after feeding.

They are approximately 2mm – 3mm long. They are quite distinctive with their large legs that are adapted for jumping. Fleas, as most people know, live on their host most of the time as this is where they feed. They can however jump off to lay their eggs and these hatch into larvae and then into pupae. The pupae hatch unaided by any parental help and spring straight out onto an unsuspecting host. Their hatching is triggered by vibration and heat near to them.

Fleas can most easily be seen in the home when there are light coloured carpets or indeed on lino or tiled floors. Sometimes an unfortunate holidaymaker returning from a fortnight away can see lots of these on their return home.

How do we control them?

When a customer phones Assured Environmental Services we take their details and try to evaluate the extent of the problem through our conversation. At this point we shall also try to give an example of the possible cost involved. We arrange an appointment to visit the site and we can then fully assess and advise the problem.

After this, with the customers’ agreement we can proceed with the work if they wish which we do so in a safe and effective manner. We try to help by advising on conditions or actions that can be taken to promote a successful outcome of our treatment and help prevent the problem arising again.

It is normally best for a house to be treated from top to bottom in each room as fleas have this habit of jumping on or off their host. We use a residual insecticide to treat the carpets and soft furnishings in which fleas can often be found when not on their host. We pay particular attention to any areas where a pet likes to frequent.

We also recommend that the pet undergoes some treatment advised by a veterinary surgeon for its complaint. Where possible we like to send off a flea for identification as quite often we are called to houses that have no pets present whatsoever. If these are identified such as hedgehog fleas they may be getting onto humans as they garden and then brought inside.

Alternatively they may be coming from a now disused birds nest in the eaves of the house, so identification is crucial. Normally one treatment alone is necessary if it is done thoroughly enough.

Before & after treatment advice

Before treatment, vacuum well prior to our arrival to ensure that the best possible surface is provided for us to apply the insecticide to. It makes for a more successful job. On completion of vacuuming, empty the vacuum bag into the bin to ensure that the vacuum itself is not a source of fleas.

Wash on a hot soapy wash any pet bedding and ensure that the pet has a prescribed course of flea treatments by a veterinary surgeon. Wherever possible, keep the floor as clear as possible for us to carry out a thorough treatment.

After treatment wait until the spray has dried before re-entering the house, usually about an hour. Keep up to date with your flea control on your pet if you have one and this should help prevent a re-infestation.

Interesting facts about fleas

They have incredibly strong legs and can jump many many times their own height. They need to feed on their host species, ie a bird flea on a bird prior to being able to breed.

Vibration and warmth (body heat) trigger the hatching of the fleas from their pupae case.