What are fleas?
Just saying the word “flea” can make most people itch. Fleas are tiny biting pests that leave behind itchy red welts as a thank you to the warm-blooded hosts they have fed on. The two most common fleas in our area are the dog flea and cat flea, with the cat flea being most widespread in Georgia and across the country.
Despite their descriptive name, both dog fleas and cat fleas feed on many hosts, including dogs and cats, rodents, and wild animals. While people aren't their preferred hosts, fleas will feed on us if we are present.
Fleas are wingless and their primary mode of transportation is their large back legs that they use to jump. In general, adult fleas grow to only about an eighth of an inch long and are brownish-black to reddish-black. Fleas are so tiny that until they jump, people often mistake them for specks of dirt. A flea’s body is flattened from side to side, helping them move easily through a host’s fur and the hard shell that covers them protects them from being squished.
Are fleas dangerous?
The flea’s feeding process of biting through their host’s skin and feeding on their blood makes them capable of spreading disease-causing pathogens and parasites like tapeworms to both people and animals. The good news is that in the United States, the transmission of diseases by fleas is relatively low.
When it comes to fleas, the biggest concern is the itchy rash they leave behind after feeding. Many of us are allergic to their saliva and can develop a rash that is uncomfortable and itchy. Excess itching in both animals and people (especially children) can lead to secondary infections that require medical attention. Pets with a severe infestation may develop hair loss, open sores, and anemia.
Why do I have a flea problem?
Fleas can become a problem in any yard or home, whether pets are present or not. The humid, warm weather found in Georgia throughout much of the year allows fleas to thrive. Fleas can complete their life cycle either inside or outside and are pests that can quickly take over any space.
Wild animals most frequently introduce fleas into yards, where you or your pets may come into contact with these insects and introduce them into your home. Fleas may also move inside on animal intruders like mice that have found a way inside, or on pieces of used furniture or rugs already infested with adults, eggs, or larvae.
Where will I find fleas?
If you are looking for fleas, you will most likely find them on the back of an animal host. Fleas have a short lifespan of just a few months and spend most of their life on a single host feeding and breeding.
After a female flea lays its eggs on the back of an animal host, they will roll off onto the ground below, where they develop into adults. New adults remain in their cocoon until an animal host walks by them and produces vibrations that alert the fleas to their presence. The adult fleas jump from the protective cocoon and onto their host, where they will begin to feed and continue their life cycle.
Outside, developing fleas or new adults waiting for a host are often found in damp soil under decks, woodpiles, leaf piles, and dense shrubbery. Inside our homes, fleas that are not on a host are seen hanging out in rugs, upholstered furniture, and bedding (human and pet).
How do I get rid of fleas?
In order to prevent or eliminate fleas and other pests, we recommend that you partner with a professional. Routine professional pest control services will not only control and eliminate any problems with fleas but provide the services needed to control pests like rodents and other wild animals that are introducing fleas onto your property.
At Prestige Pest Control, we believe in treating our customers like family and providing pest control services that are affordable and result in a pest-free home. Our highly trained and knowledgeable professionals solve fleas issues through customized services and products that are EPA certified. To learn more about eliminating problems with fleas and other common pests through our monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly pest control options, call us at Prestige Pest Control today!
How can I prevent fleas in the future?
- Inside your home, regularly vacuum floors, mattresses, and upholstered furniture.
- Wash your bedding and the bedding of your pets on a routine basis.
- Remove from your property things that will attract wild animals and the fleas that come with them like woodpiles, leaf piles, overgrown vegetation.
- Mow your grass regularly.
- Take away feeding sites for wild animals on your property by keeping lids on trash cans, removing bird feeders, and picking up uneaten pet food.
- Place pets on a year-round flea prevention program.