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Pests in Public Buildings and Private Residences: Fleas

A collection of resources regarding pests that infest public buildings and private residences.

All About Fleas

ALL ABOUT FLEAS
( Ctenocephalides felis )
Characteristics
Size: Tiny insects measuring about one-sixth inch in length and are laterally flattened.
Color: Reddish-brown.
Behavior: One female flea can lay about 18 eggs a day and just 20 fleas on a dog can produce 360 eggs per day and over 2,000 eggs in a week. After the home is treated with flea control products, it may take up to two weeks or more before fleas are no longer seen. Vacuuming as often as possible after the flea extermination can help shorten this time period.
 
Habitats
Fleas are ectoparasites of animals, meaning they live on the outside of the body and need to feed on the blood of these animals in order to produce eggs. Because fleas usually feed and lay their eggs while the pet is sleeping, the pet's resting areas are where the most fleas will be found. Many pets acquire fleas outside in the yard, which can lead to a flea infestation inside the home. Research has demonstrated that urban wildlife, such as raccoons and opossums, are commonly responsible for introducing these biting pests onto residential properties where the pets can encounter them.
 
Tips for Control
Controlling a flea infestation successfully requires four steps:
  • Preparation for treatment

  • Treatment of pets

  • Treatment of the inside premises

  • Treatment of flea activity sites outside

Obviously, the pet is critical to minimizing flea infestations, and regular grooming helps to limit fleas on the pet. For this reason, customers need to keep the pet groomed and treated with on-animal flea control products. Consult your veterinarian for assistance in treating your pets for fleas and ticks.
 
Step One. Any flea extermination will be less effective if the home is not prepared properly by completing the following steps:
  • Remove all items, such as toys, clothes and pet food from all floors

  • Wash or replace pet bedding.

  • Vacuum all carpets and rugs thoroughly, including beneath beds and upholstered furniture.

  • Clean all wood, tile and linoleum floors by sweeping and mopping.

  • Clean concrete floors with soap and water in the garage, basement or enclosed patio where pets rest or stay.

  • Remove all pets including birds and reptiles. Cover fish tanks with a damp towel and turn off the air pump. (Note: saltwater tanks cannot have pumps disconnected.)

  • Replace any pet bedding outdoors and make all shaded areas, crawl spaces, etc. available for treatment.

  • Arrange to be out of the home for several hours until the treatment has thoroughly dried.

Step Two. The homeowner needs to arrange for treating the pet, and this should be done at the same time that the home is treated. A number of on-animal treatment products are now available. Treatment of pets should be done under the direction of a veterinarian.
 
Step Three. In homes with an active flea infestation, a residual treatment combined with an insect growth regulator should be applied. The professionals at Terminix® flea extermination service know how to get rid of fleas by using the latest flea control products. Efforts should be focused on the areas where pets rest or sleep, as these are the sites where the most fleas will be located.
 
Step Four. Outside, treatment is typically applied to shaded areas and beneath shrubs and decks where pets rest or sleep.
 
From https://www.terminix.com/pest-control/fleas/  ; accessed August 18, 2017.
 

Getting Rid of Fleas in the Home

Habits

Fleas can live for about 100 days during which time the females produce 400-500 offspring. Fleas transport themselves on rodents and other mammals, and usually remain on their hosts at all times. These pests use their powerful legs to jump as high as 8" vertically, which is 150 times their own height. If humans could do this, we would be able to leap over skyscrapers.

Habitat

Fleas infest both household pets and wild animals like opossums, raccoons and skunks. They can also be found on shoes, pant legs or blankets, which can transfer the fleas to new environments.

Threats

Fleas are the most common transmitter of the rare bubonic plague. They also transmit the bacterial disease murine typhus to humans through infected rats. Their saliva can cause serious flea allergy dermatitis in pets and their debris has been reported to cause similar allergic reactions in humans. Fleas can also transfer tapeworms and cause anemia in pets, which is why active flea management is an important component of pet care. Flea bites commonly cause painful, itchy red bumps.

Flea Prevention

Looking to get rid of fleas in the home? Homeowners should clean and vacuum frequently to help remove flea populations and prevent the laying of eggs. It's also necessary to keep the lawn groomed to avoid rodent habitation. Pet owners should practice active flea management by keeping dogs on a leash when outside, bathing and grooming pets regularly, visiting a veterinarian annually, and using flea treatments according to direction. If you suspect a flea infestation, it is important to hire a flea control professional to rid your home of rodents and fleas.

From http://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/fleas/flea/; accessed August 18, 2017.

Fleas in the News and in Public Libraries

Public Library open again after treatment for fleas

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Daniel Boone Regional Library is once again open to the public after being closed for three days due to a flea infestation.

A library spokesperson said a third treatment to exterminate the fleas on Friday was successful. It reopened at 9 o'clock Saturday morning.

From http://www.abc17news.com/news/public-library-open-again-after-treatment-for-fleas/54281388; accessed August 18, 2017.

 

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Genessee District Library pest infestation comes amid five-year high for fleas

GENESEE COUNTY, MI -- A flea infestation at some libraries comes as the area experiences a high population for fleas this year.
A local exterminator said he's gotten more calls about fleas this summer and fall than in the last five years.
It could be a symptom of the pests building an immunity to the high volume of over-the-counter pesticides, said Roger Atchley, owner of Phoenix Pest Services in Fenton.

From http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2012/09/exterminator_library_pest_infe.html; accessed August 18, 2017.

 

 

 

 

Removing Fleas from Pets

 

Fleas on dogs and cats! These small dark brown insects prefer temperatures of 65-80 degrees and humidity levels of 75-85 percent -- so for some areas of the country they are more than just a "summer" problem.

Dogs and cats often get infested with fleas through contact with other animals or contact with fleas in the environment. The strong back legs of this insect enable it to jump from host to host or from the environment onto the host. (Fleas do not have wings, so they cannot fly!) The flea’s bite can cause itching for the host but for a sensitive or flea-allergic animal, this itching can be quite severe and leads to hair-loss, inflammation and secondary skin infections. Some pets, hypersensitive to the flea's saliva, will itch all over from the bite of even a single flea!

From http://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_dg_fleas_on_dogs_and_what_you_can_do_about_them; accessed August 18, 2017.

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7 Ways to Naturally Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs

  1. Use a Flea Comb
  2. Enhance your Dog Shampoo
  3. Use apple cider vinegar to repel fleas
  4. Wash bedding and use heat
  5. Use boric acid powder
  6. Make a flea collar
  7. Periodically vacuum the floor

From http://www.fleabites.net/7-ways-to-naturally-get-rid-of-fleas-on-dogs/; accessed August 18, 2017.