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Controlling Fleas in Homes

April 07, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 143

What are Fleas? Fleas are a small insect that specialize in feeding on blood. This makes them parasitic. There are a huge variety of fleas (over 2,000) and each is specially adapted to feed on different hosts. However, the vast majority of fleas in homes are the cat flea, dog flea, human flea, and rat flea. Keep in mind, these fleas will feed on more than just the host they are named after.

Fleas have no wings, so they require alternative methods of travel. This is where they powerful hind legs come into play. They are capable of propelling a flea over 200 times their body length! This makes fleas extremely mobile, even without wings.

Fleas are very small, only a couple millimeters in size. Though small, they can still be seen with the naked eye. They are typically dark brown, but after feeding turn a more reddish color.

Flea Life Cycle Part of what makes fleas so difficult to kill in homes is their rapid life cycle. This can make they very resilient, especially if you are not even trying to kill the pre-adult stages. Fleas are a holometabolous insect, meanings they go through four distinct metamorphic stages. These are the egg, larvae, pupae, and adult.

Fleas start out as eggs. A mother flea will typically lay between 20-30 eggs at a time, but can lay up to 50 eggs in some circumstances. Inside homes these eggs will be laid in carpets. They will hatch quickly, from 2 to 14 days. Flea egg are 50% of a home infestation.

The eggs will eventually hatch into larvae, and they will continue to live in the bottom of your carpet. They feed on organic matter, slowly growing. After molting 3 times they will eventually spin a cocoon. Flea larvae make up 35% of an infestation.

Inside the silken cocoon, the larvae will transform into an adult flea. This usually takes around two weeks. Once transformed, the adult will stay inside the pupal casing until it detects a host nearby. They can stay dormant in this cocoon for up to a year. Cocoons make up 10% of an infestation.

Finally, adult fleas will emerge and being feeding and reproducing. These are the tiny insects that are biting you. They only make up 5% of a flea infestation.

Killings Pre-Adults Killing the eggs, larvae, and cocoons are the most important life stages to kill. They make up over 95% of a total flea infestation. The best thing you can do to remove them is to vacuum carpets frequently. This will suck up a lot of these pre-adult fleas. However, you will usually need to do more than just this.

Insect growth regulators (GR), such as Nylar, are commonly used in flea sprays for homes. These work on eggs and larvae, cocoons are unaffected by insecticides. These insect GR work by preventing flea larvae from ever transforming into adults. Instead, after pupating, they simply re-emerge as larvae and eventually die. This completely cuts off their reproduction cycle.

Killing Adults While not as important as eliminating pre-adults, adult fleas can be controlled as well. They leave irritating bites, and can lay eggs to continue to infestation. There are many methods you can use to kill adult fleas. Some of these include flea traps, insecticides (pyrethrin), and carpet powders (borate).

Pet Treatment There are multiple over-the-counter products to treat pets for fleas. Many of these will only kill adult fleas though. In my opinion, the best product, that kills larvae and adults, is Bayer Advantage. This usually insecticides to kill adults, and insect growth regulators for the pre-adults. This should be all you to use to kill the fleas on your pets.

If you do not want to use these chemicals on your pets, you do have other options. These include flea shampoo, flea collars, oral medications, sprays, and flea comb.

Stopping Flea from Biting You Ending a flea infestation can sometimes take a while. This is because you have to wait for their life cycles to end before they completely die off. In the mean time, it can be helpful to stop fleas form biting you. You can use insect repellents such as DEET for skin, and permethrin for clothing. This will keep the little pests away.

I hope this information is useful to you in dealing with your flea problem. For more information visit We can help you through your flea problem with information, tips, and product reviews.

Source: EzineArticles
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