FLEA INFESTATIONS IN THE HOME
We have all heard that prevention is worth a pound of cure. There are two scenarios, those that have fleas and those that will have them. Having treated my share of flea infestations over the past 32 years, I know the process can be overwhelming, time consuming and not to mention expensive. Your pets health suffers when fleas gain a foot hold in and around your home. Fleas can cause all types of issues for your pets, from anemia, flea allergy dermatitis and tapeworm.
Let’s talk a minute about preventative measures you can take to avoid this nightmare for your pet and home from becoming infested. Fleas have a complete life cycle (egg, larva, pupa, adult) their eggs make up about 80% of the total flea population in your home. Only 2% of any given population is made up of adults. The average life span of a flea is about six weeks, but under certain conditions they can live as a year. The adult flea lives on your pet and will lay as many as 200-600 eggs in her lifetime. The egg will fall off the host and hatch in the environment, not on the animal.
Understanding Insect biology of any given pest can give you clues on how to prevent and control them. As an organic and least toxic material company, we focus on an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to control many pest issues. Knowing how fleas reproduce, what it eats, how they gain access to your home and a host of other details we can begin to develop a prevention program.
Sanitation is the first step in an effective prevention program. Keeping your landscape mowed, trimmed back won’t prevent fleas, but helps eliminate harborage to those animals that gain access to your yard like opossums, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, stray cats, etc. that are likely infested with fleas. Another common point of entry is your subarea through missing or damaged vents. These animals introduce fleas onto your property and your pets and family members will become a mode of transportation and bring adult fleas indoors where the cycle starts.
Vacuuming will remove vital elements inside that fleas use to complete their life cycle. Debris such as, dirt, dust human hair, pet hair, and fibers from carpets, rugs and furniture is the material that protects and camouflages the flea pupae. Washing pet bedding once a week will help control all stages of fleas especially the eggs since this stage is 80% of the infestation.
The pupae use organic material to build a “safe house” which makes a water-tight invisible cocoon or pupae casing. Adult fleas consume a large amount of blood while feeding on your pets. When fleas feed they are also leaving behind as droppings, made up almost entirely of blood from their host. This very same dried blood is utilized by an immature stage, the flea larvae. You can severely reduce the survival and development of fleas in your home by reducing the availability of debris. So the message here is vacuum vacuum vacuum. The beater bar on many vacuums “stimulates” flea hatching, so frequent vacuuming is ideal to help pull up all stages of fleas.
IMPROVE ANIMAL HEALTH
A healthy animal has a much better chance fending off the negative effects of fleas. In many cases a health animal may be less attractive to fleas than one that isn’t. Much like us, good food, lots of love and less stress is a good start. There are many supplements that can also aid in the health of your pet, such as vitamin B complex and B1 and cold-press garlic oil. Their environment also plays a big part in their health, such as clean indoor air. Have your pet looked at by your Veterinarian on a regular basis.
Regular inspection of your pet with flea combs will help you monitor the flea population. Also inspecting the bedding for signs of dried blood, eggs and larvae will also help gage what action, if any is needed.
During the height of flea season it is a good idea to bath your pets on a weekly basis with a non-insecticidal soap, reduce this schedule when the flea problem diminishes. Be sure to rinse your pet well to remove all soap residues which will help reduce the chance of dry skin. Use mild solution Dawn® dish soap and work into coat and comb through using a flea comb or brush.