Do you get heart palpitations every time you see your dog scratch its ear? Does your pulse increase when you see black flecks on your sofa? Do you examine every small red bump or bite on your skin? If so, you may have suffered through a flea infestation at some point.
With spring and summer approaching, we’re more likely to spend time outdoors, to let Fido run around in the yard and keep doors and windows open to let the breeze in. As much as we try to prepare and protect against fleas, they have a knack for working their way onto our pets and into our homes. And where there is one – there are one thousand.
Adult fleas are parasites that typically feed off animals like dogs, cats, rodents, foxes, opossums and, yes, humans. They live on the back, neck and underside of the animal, with the eggs and larvae subsisting off the host. They tend to thrive in moist, humid and shady areas – but are found in almost all climates. While you will find fleas in Florida all year round, you’ll also find them in Illinois during the hot, balmy summers.
In our homes, these pesky insects like to reside under rugs and carpets, in beds, mattresses and clothes, out in the yard and within the cracks and crevices of furniture. (So pretty much anywhere!) Without a host (or “blood meal”), fleas can live more than 100 days, on average, two to three months, and can lay eggs within 36 to 48 hours. A flea can lay 40 to 50 eggs per day. The eggs will fall off its host and hatch as larvae in 1 to 10 days.
And we all know that these little buggers can bite! Watch out for red spots with a halo, itching, hives, a rash characterized by small clusters of bumps and, swelling around the bite. Bites are often found around the legs or feet. It typically takes 3 to 4 months (the life cycle) to rid your home of fleas.
How can we help protect your home from an infestation? Here are some housekeeping tips to keep you flea-free:
- Treat the pets you own; be wary of the ones you don’t. There are many options that you can use to protect your pets. Flea collars, pills or spot-on flea serums are popular options. Also, you should always run a flea comb through your pet’s coat before brining them inside. Stay away from wild or feral animals, as they may be carriers.
- Protect your Yard: Simple landscaping like trimming or mowing the lawn reduces the places for fleas to hide. Leaving food out (like cat or dog bowls) can draw flea-ridden rodents and other offenders closer to your property.
- Clean House: Always a good practice - keep your house tidy! Fleas avoid high-traffic areas, so cleaning in corners, under furniture and along baseboards helps to eliminate larvae and eggs. Vacuum at least once a week and be sure to change the bag frequently.
As the weather gets warmer, keep an eye out for fleas and do what you can to prevent an infestation. The Mosquito Squad is a huge proponent of keeping your yard and home insect-free!
*The Mosquito Squad are not veterinarians, do not specifically treat fleas or infestations and are not experts on wildlife. We just don’t like fleas. Please consult your local veterinarian or health care provider with questions about bites or treatment.