Fleas are the bane of many a pet owner. In fact, Americans spend more than a billion dollars annually on flea and tick products. But, you don’t have to have a pet to experience fleas. Other pests, such as rats and bats can carry fleas, and if the previous owner of your home kept a pet with fleas, these pests may still live in the carpets.
While they might be small, fleas can cause big problems if not promptly treated. Fleas are small, wingless insects, measuring about 1-3 mm in length. They are dark reddish-brown in color, and most active during the spring and summer months. It can be very difficult to spot fleas because they move so fast along their host’s body. Fleas feed exclusively on the blood of mammals, such as humans and their pets, and are what’s known as a parasite.
There are about 2,000 species of fleas around the world, and they can be found in all types of regions – including polar, temperate, and even tropical zones. About 25 different species of fleas are found throughout South Carolina, with the most common species being the cat flea, dog flea, human flea, and Oriental rat flea.
In order to seek out a victim, fleas use their senses in order to pick up vibrations, exhaled carbon dioxide, and body heat from a potential host. To get around, fleas use their powerful legs to jump. A flea can jump around 8 inches, making them among the best jumpers in the insect world. A single flea can lay 20 to 50 eggs in a single day, making an infestation difficult to treat – especially if you aren’t thorough.
Why Do I Have a Flea Problem?
Fleas are common around the world, as long as they have a source of food (their host) and water. If you have a pet, fleas may hop onto your pet’s fur from another pet or from infested dirt or grass outside, eventually making their way inside. Fleas may also take up residence on carpeting and furniture both indoors and outdoors around your home. Even if you don’t have a pet, you might still find yourself with a flea problem if a wild animal around your property has fleas. Common carriers of fleas include opossums, feral cats, skunks, rats, and raccoons.
Are Fleas Dangerous?
Yes, fleas can be especially dangerous – if the nearly one quarter of the entire population of Europe who died from bubonic plague due to transmission by fleas is any indication! Because they are bloodsucking insects, fleas are major carriers of diseases, in addition to being an annoying pest.
What Sort of Problems Do Fleas Cause?
Fleas feed on the blood of a host animal – usually cats, dogs, and livestock – by biting and sucking out blood. Flea bites are not initially painful, but bites quickly become itchy and inflamed, causing pain as they develop. As pets or humans scratch the bites, the lesions may bleed or become infected.
Fleas can also carry diseases such as the plague, flea-borne (murine) typhus, cat scratch disease (CSD), and tapeworms.
How Worried Should I Be About Fleas?
Most of the time, fleas are merely a nuisance, causing annoying, itchy bites. However, for many pets – and their humans – flea bites can cause a serious reaction. A heavy infestation of fleas in a young dog or cat is enough to cause anemia as the animal is bitten over and over. Don’t forget about the diseases fleas carry – plague, tapeworms, and others. For these reasons, it’s important to treat a flea infestation at the first sign of problems. An experienced pest control professional can help you come up with a plan of attack.
Where Do You Find Fleas?
Fleas will happily live in both pet and human bedding – mattresses, pillows, and blankets are all susceptible. Carpets, area rugs, and furniture make good places for fleas to hide as well. Dog houses, kitty posts, and other pet accessories are also prime locations to find fleas.
If you or your pet are scratching more than usual, and notice small bite marks on your body, you might have a flea infestation. You might also notice tiny flecks of brown or black embedded in your pet’s fur – that’s flea poop, and it’s another sign you might have an infestation on your hands.
How Do I Get Rid of Fleas?
The life cycle of fleas gives these pests an incredible survival ability. Fleas are not easily controlled by over-the-counter products. Prevention is the best way to ensure you don’t experience an infestation, but if you’re already dealing with a flea problem then you’ll need a long-acting insecticide – contact us for treatment that can break the flea’s life cycle and eliminate the problem.
How Do I Prevent Fleas From Coming Back?
It’s easier to keep fleas out of your home than it is to get rid of them. To help keep fleas out of your home, sweep or vacuum well and often, including not just your carpets and rugs, but any chair cushions or sofas. Also, clean bedding – especially pet bedding – frequently with soap and water. If you have a pet that goes outside, you can treat them with medications or products that kill and repel fleas.
At Putman Pest Management, we know fleas. We know how to identify them and we know how best to treat a flea infestation. We also know how to prevent fleas from coming back. Even if you’re not sure what type of bug you’re dealing with, we can help. Explore our pest library to learn how to identify the most common pests, what attracts them to your property, and how to keep them out. From common house bugs to tiny pests and crawling insects, our pest control services keep your home or office pest-free. Simple and safe, our treatments offer convenient protection that will treat and prevent fleas. Contact us today for your free estimate.