It’s happening again. You just bought new flea collars for both the cat and the dog, and both pets had flea baths yesterday. Nevertheless, Fido is scratching again, and Mr. Whiskers keeps twitching his ears in the way that cats do when they have an itch. The fleas are back!
These pesky insects don’t stop by bothering your pets, either; they are not biased and will bite people and animals alike, since they eat fresh blood, dandruff, grain particles, and skin flakes, all of which they can get from humans. Cat fleas – which can be found on both dogs and cats – are among the most common types of fleas in the United States, and in extreme cases have also been known to transmit plague and typhus. They can cause tape worm if eaten. So, you definitely don’t want to give fleas free reign in your home.
Why Is It So Difficult to Get Rid of Fleas?
Unfortunately, fleas are easier to spot than to remove, partly because of the speed with which they reproduce. A female flea can begin to reproduce within 48 hours of ingesting her first meal of fresh blood, and from then on can lay as many as 50 eggs per day! Thus, if left unchecked, flea populations can quickly grow to unwieldy sizes. Feeling itchy yet?
Often, even flea bombs are ineffective because flea larvae live in areas such as pet beds, lower levels of carpets, and spaces beneath furniture where flea bombs do not reach. Flea larvae are also protected by their cocoons, and may not be killed even if they are within the range of flea bombs. Most disturbingly, flea larvae can live in their cocoons for as long a a year, simply waiting for nearby vibrations to alert them to the presence of a nearby food source, at which point they will emerge.
Make the Itching Stop!
So how can you rid your home of these creatures? Make sure that you attack them on the following multiple fronts:
- Treat the pets. Flea collars, flea baths, flea powders, medications, and topical treatments, such as the popular Frontline (R) brand, can help to kill the fleas that are actually living on your pets.
- Treat the home. Since fleas can nest in bedding, furniture, and other areas throughout the home, just removing the fleas that live on your animals is not usually sufficient. Consider using one of the many sprays, powders and dusts currently on the market. Additionally, your vacuum may be one of your most powerful weapons against fleas. Since flea larvae often emerge from their cocoons when they feel nearby vibrations, vacuuming will often draw them out. When you have finished vacuuming, put the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag, so that the fleas won’t simply crawl out.
- Treat the yard. Use insecticides on your yard, and mow your lawn frequently. Otherwise, your pets may simply bring new fleas indoors.
Be patient, and recognize that it may take up to three weeks before treatments begin to be effective. Remember too that you may need to apply each treatment multiple times. Of course, if you find that your home has an unusually large infestation of fleas, you may want to consider calling in licensed professionals to care for the matter.