Fleas

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The adult flea is between two and seven millimetres long, and brownish in colour. Their bodies are compressed from side to side enabling them to move quickly through hairs and they have large limbs which are used for jumping. The three most common species are:

  • Cat flea
  • Dog flea
  • Human flea

Cost of Treatment

We do not provide this service directly. However, we have an arrangement with our contractor, Monitor Pest Control Ltd, to provide a service at a competitive rates.

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Lifestyle

All fleas live as parasites on warm-blooded animals. Although they have a preferred host, both the cat and dog flea can also be found on other animals, including humans. Fleas can also be found in the hosts' bedding. Cat fleas are the most common type, accounting for 75% of all flea infestations. The flea population reaches its peak in September and is a particular problem in areas where lots of people live close together.

Fleas eggs are small, oval-shaped and pearl white in colour. They are laid in the fur or feathers of the host, or in its bedding. The eggs hatch in about one week into white thread-like larvae. The larvae thrive in dark, humid places, such as carpets and animal bedding. After two to three weeks, when they are fully grown, the larvae spin a cocoon and pupate. The adult usually emerges within seven weeks but can remain as a pupa throughout the winter, only coming out when triggered by the movement of a suitable host. The complete lifecycle will normally last four weeks but may take longer at low temperatures.

The problem

Fleas are known carriers of disease and can also be responsible for the transmission of parasitic worms, such as the dog tapeworm. In the UK however, fleas are not generally responsible for the spread of infection but bite their host. A flea bite will be seen as a tiny dark red spot surrounded by a reddened area. The bite will remain for one or two days.

Prevention and control

By taking simple measures, you should be able to prevent a flea infestation:

  • Check pets regularly. Watch out for the fleas themselves, their eggs or droppings (tiny black specks). You will need to part the fur in several places so you can see down to the skin, or stand your pet on white paper and comb it backwards - you will see the specks fall onto the paper
  • Wash pets' bedding every four to six weeks
  • Vacuum clean the house regularly, paying particular attention to where the carpet meets the wall, and where pets regularly use
  • Treat pets regularly with an insecticide for fleas, following the instructions carefully
  • Flea collars are a good deterrent and last for several weeks
  • Tablets and drops are available which protect your pet for longer periods. Contact your vet for advice.

If you do find fleas you can take these simple steps to get rid of them:

  • Clean all infested clothing and bedding
  • Clean the infested area by vacuuming carpet edges and soft furnishings. After vacuuming dispose of the contents and bag of the vacuum cleaner as it could re-contaminate the carpets when it is next used
  • Check your pets for fleas and treat if necessary with a proprietary flea powder or flea collar.

Treatment

Large and repeated infestations of fleas are best treated by a professional pest control company.