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What exactly are fleas?
Fleas are wingless parasitic insects that cause direct harm to mammals and birds by biting them to obtain food. This is in contrast to other insects that cause harm through property damage and food competition. Fleas have mouth parts that pierce the skin of their hosts to suck blood as a meal.
What kind of climate conditions do fleas thrive in?
For climate conditions, fleas prefer and thrive in warm and humid weather. It is also in these conditions that eggs are laid. The typical flea can live anywhere from a few days to several months. Their presence is most prominent in the summer and autumn, but they can be a year-round problem in warmer climates.
What are some different kinds of fleas?
The most common flea that afflicts households is the cat flea, especially in the East. Despite its name, these fleas attach themselves to dogs and humans, as well as cats. Also in existence, but much less common, is the dog flea as well as the human flea, which afflicts people and animals in the West. Additionally, there are other species that pose a threat to different animals, but not to pets and people. Examples of these are the Oriental rat flea and the northern rat flea. These fleas feed on rats and mice as their names suggest.
How does the life cycle of a flea work?
When male and female fleas attach themselves to a host, they will feed on blood several times per day. Female fleas require a blood meal and mating before laying eggs. When they lay their eggs, the eggs fall off the host and into pet bedding, the edges of carpets, or in floor crevices. After a period of one to twelve days, the eggs hatch into larvae. The larvae have a maggot-like appearance and can move around with the aid of tiny bristles on each of their segments. These larvae then bury themselves into low-traveled areas of carpeting so that they can go through three larval stages over a period of 7 to 15 days. After the 7 to 15 days, they spin a cocoon in they evolve into pupa. It is in the cocoon that flea pupa can stay anywhere from a week to a year. The shortest stay happens when conditions are favorable (warm and humid). When the adult flea emerges, it can live for months by sustaining itself on body reserves until it finds a host. When it does, the cycle of egg-laying and hatching begins anew.
Why should you worry about fleas?
The real danger of fleas (aside from aggravation and discomfort) is the threat of bacterial infection. By biting and puncturing a host, an opening occurs in the skin that can potentially let in bacteria. This threat is escalated if the puncture turns into a sore, which is common due to scratching. Also, if a flea is feeding on one host and then jumps to another, the flea can potentially be transmitting a disease from host to host.
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Extermination for fleas involves a complete floor-surface chemical application. It is necessary to get every inch of floor space because fleas can hide just about anywhere. To prepare for an application, it is necessary to vacuum all the carpets and wood floors in your house, as well as the cushions of your couches and padded chairs. Upon completion, you must throw away the vacuum bag. All tile floors must be mopped and concrete floors swept. Anything on the floors of the closets in your home must be picked up and either put up high or put on a bed. Make sure there are no children’s toys on the floor or any other loose objects. Although it is a pain to prepare for, extermination of fleas is necessary to live comfortably and disease-free.