Fleas are tiny creatures that can cause a lot of trouble. They are flat, they cannot fly, and are very difficult to spot unless you look closely. They are parasites and attach themselves to the bodies of mammals and birds. They are a cause for bother as they feed on their host’s blood. There are about 2,500 types of fleas and they treat about 50 animals as well as humans as good hosts.
The lifecycle of a flea
Fleas start feeding as soon as they attach themselves to a host. Their excretion is called flea dirt and this becomes food for the larvae. The fleas mate on the host. The female begins to lay eggs within 24-48 hours of finding a host and lays about 25-50 eggs a day. These eggs could potentially drop wherever the hosts go. The growth cycle from larvae to pupa within a cocoon can happen within eight days or a month. Except for the adult, the other stages can happen anywhere, in carpets, in beds, in any nook or corner. Some pupa can lie dormant for months. The newly-formed fleas then wait for new hosts to attach to. As they can jump to eight inches from the floor, they can attach themselves to home pets very easily.
Fleas cause severe dermatitis causing lesions and hair loss in pets. If the itching is severe, scratching it could cause infections. Fleas lead to flea tapeworms and anemia.
How to control flea infestations?
Inside our houses, fleas are likely to be found in spots where pets rest, places which do not receive sunlight, and spots which are humid. Fleas cannot thrive in hot and sunny spots. Vacuuming removes fleas in all stages of growth inside the house. While vacuuming, the pupa and the larvae hidden in the carpet becomes loose once you apply a flea repellant. For pets, there are a variety of products in the form of pills, powders, shampoos, topical application, and spot-ons. Spot-ons are liquids applied to the animal’s skin once a month. Keeping the pets clean, bathing and grooming them regularly in a warm and sunny place can reduce the chances of a flea infestation.
Effectiveness of flea repellants
Most pesticides and repellants used for fleas are made of chemicals and are toxic to some degree. Even though only small amounts are used, toxins can cause harm to the nervous system and hormones of the pets. Shampoos are unreliable. Flea collars use chemicals that are hazardous. Chemical repellants are also a cause of cancer in pets. Over-the-counter flea repellant products release chemicals that can be absorbed by animals. Though they are as effective as flea repellants, many have been proved to be hazardous and their usage has been banned by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
New repellants that are being introduced in the market are made from plant-based products are completely free of toxins or use very minimal chemicals. With more awareness spreading and pet owners becoming more conscious of what products are safe for their pets, new formulations for flea infestations are becoming popular in the market.