Thanks to better flea products for your pets like FrontLine, Advantage, the Program and others, flea infestations were at an all-time low in the Santa Clara County for many years. Due to rise in population of stray cats and other nocturnal animals, Fleas are back with a vengeance! Fleas have been more aggressive in recent years because our wonderful climate has allowed substantial breeding of the animals .
Most flea problems are direct result of these transient animals such as stray cats, possums, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, and other animals that a homeowner or exterminator has no control over. These animals bring fleas to the yard usually at night when they are moving around.
How Fleas Arrive
Fleas are carried into yards on transient animals, usually at night when these wild animals are active (except squirrels which are day time animals). Even most dogs are unaware of these animals in the yard since dogs sleep the majority of the night. These animals are also quiet and would rather not make their presence known.
Your pet cat that roams the neighborhood, could visit a yard with fleas then bring them back to your yard if the cat is not protected by a long acting flea protection product (such as Advantage or FrontLine products).
Once the flea infestation is visible; they’re on the pets, jumping on you, biting family members….. a flea service is now necessary.
Flea Life Cycle
Let’s discuss the flea life cycle before the remedy. Understanding the flea cycle goes a long way in determining the corrective action and which home and yard products to choose.
Fleas are a parasite (which means they need a warm blooded host to survive). They feed purely on blood and cannot be off their host for more than a day or two before they would die of starvation.
Fleas have a complete life cycle. They start as an egg, hatch out into a worm (larva), then spin a cocoon (pupa), then hatch out as the adult flea when developed and stimulated to hatch. The life cycle can be completed in as quick as three to four weeks or the cocoons (pupa) can lay over to the following year.
When a flea is fully developed but still in the cocoon (pupa), it waits until it feels the pressure of a footfall or a warm body laying or sitting on it. This tells the flea inside that a “meal” is near and it will hatch out and be on the host in about 3 seconds. It needs to be assured of survival and that “pressure” is a good indication that the time is right.
Thus, the pressure that causes the flea to hatch may indeed be an animal, but many times it’s a person walking or standing unknowingly on it or a child playing in the yard or sitting on the carpet that causes the hatching. And do you think there is only one? More like dozens.
How the flea infestation occurs
Now that you have a better idea of the flea life cycle, we will walk you “behind the scenes” of how an infestation occurs.
The female flea gets on an animal and immediately begins to engorge itself on blood. As she feeds she is capable of laying about three dozen eggs per day, these eggs are not sticky and will fall off, be sneezed off, scratched off or as the animal walks or runs the eggs come off like a salt shaker.
In anywhere from three to fifteen days the worm hatches out and feeds on flea droppings (which is partially digested blood that also has accumulated and fell of the animal). The flea droppings (or sometimes called flea dirt) are an important part the flea life cycle since the flea worm does not have a biting mouth part and needs to feed to get to the next stage of the cycle. The worm ingests the droppings and when it is done will spin a cocoon using its saliva and particles and fibers it finds for cocoon materials. Now that it’s comfortable and protected, it begins the transition of changing from a worm to the adult flea (much like a caterpillar changes to a butterfly).
So, after a month or more of fleas quietly developing, they begin to hatch. It’s almost like popcorn popping! one day everything’s relatively fine…. then for a week or two you’ll see or get periodic bites…. the WHAM! fleas everywhere.
If the infestation is extreme and/or you have very allergic pets or people in the house (allergies to flea bites), a monthly service is recommended for the first few months. When the population is under control then you can switch to Bi-Monthly Servicing if you want, or stay on monthly servicing if you prefer.
On your first service for a flea infestation, we normally treat inside and outside the home.
Inside Service: Normally a fine mist is applied to all the carpets throughout the house, under beds and around baseboards. We normally use two products, an insecticide with a residual that lasts about 30 days to kill fleas after they hatch and a growth regulator (methoprene) to stop fleas in the egg and worms stages (to stop them before entering the pupa/cocoon stage).
Unfortunately, once the flea has made it to the safety of the cocoon, we all have to wait for the adult flea to hatch before it can be killed, that’s why we want a residual product that will be there for when the adult flea hatches.
Outside Service: Outside the home, we treat the complete front and back yard. Knowing the habits of your pets (the fleas transportation vehicle), helps us to determine where the majority of fleas are developing. In other words, where ever your pets or stray animals spend time is where the most fleas will be (where animals sleep, eat, lay in the sun and go potty). If animals/pets sleep in the garage or house, we will want to know so that those areas can be concentrated on as well.
Under decks or under houses are a couple areas that if animals are allowed to spend time in, can create some of the most severe flea problems. This is because these areas are away from direct sunlight (direct sunlight is death to flea lava). Flea larva cannot tolerate direct sunlight, they will dehydrate, so if they’re in a shaded area more fleas will make it adulthood. Be sure to eliminate access under homes and decks whenever possible. See our page on Residential Services for more information on the services we offer.
Click here to view our Flea Prep Sheet
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