With the very mild autumn we have had the flea population is thriving about South Otago. We have had several clients come in recently to purchase treatment for their animals because they are getting bitten (feeling itchy yet?).
Contrary to popular opinion, fleas don’t jump off your cat or dog onto you (well not unless your cat or dog is sick or dying – but that’s another story). Adult fleas live on them, but why leave a lovely warm, tasty, furry feline or canine for a hairless creature that doesn’t have very tasty blood?
When your cat or dog comes home with a flea or two, the female flea can lay up to 200 eggs in their lifetime. These eggs fall off into the carpet, furnishings and bedding then hatch into little larvae that graze on all that lovely flea dirt and human skin cells that abound in the house! (Bet you’re feeling itchy now!). Once they are grown, they pupate (just like a butterfly). In their cocoon they are pretty much resistant to fire, floods and tornadoes (a growth inhibitor works – but not much else) and, after a suitable time, they hatch out as an adult flea and go looking for a warm, blood meal. That’s where we come in!
Fleas hatch in response to warmth, moisture and vibration – and they can pretty much hatch and leap in a couple of seconds – so when you (the warm, moist and heavy footed person) walk by – guess what happens?!
So – now you have fleas! (Stop scratching!) What can you do?
Treating your cats and dogs (you HAVE to treat them all!) will kill any fleas that hatch and jump on them – so over a period of time there won’t be any ongoing eggs dropping into your carpets and continuing the infestation. Treating them with Frontline, Advocate, Broadline, etc. will help to kill the fleas on your pets and reduce the numbers in your home. But remember that there is still the big, wide world out there – your pet will pick up fleas in other places. So if you really don’t want fleas about – you HAVE to treat all the cats and dogs that come into your house regularly to keep it flea free.
If it is all too much for you (having fleas that is) or there are members of your household (the two legged ones that is) that react badly to fleas (my daughter once got 80 bites over two days from ONE flea) then, as well as treating your pets, you should treat your house. You can use borer bombs and the like, but if you really want to do a good job you should get Indorex – it kills fleas and larvae, but also has a growth retardant in it that inhibits the developing pupae. In addition to this you should vacuum, vacuum, vacuum as this will help to reduce levels (and the vibration will encourage pupae to hatch). Standing bowls of hot water about can catch fleas too (remember the warm and moist – I once got a flea in a cup of coffee I had put on the floor of a friend’s house – that was one that wasn’t going to bite!)
Fleas are irritating to pets and owners, but fortunately don’t carry any nasty diseases. Proper treatment will quickly deal with problems in the household. A salutary thought is that, while our cats and dogs will share their fleas with us at a pinch, we no longer have to deal with the human flea – which we share with the pig!