Summer is coming, and that means fun in the sun for everyone, including fleas. Yes, you read that right—as you and your pet are enjoying the summertime sun, legions of fleas are doing the same. Of course, fleas are a year-round concern, but they can run rampant when temperatures and humidity are on the rise. New Orleans could just as easily be called “The Big Fleasy” if it weren’t so damaging to tourism. Make sure you’re prepared for more than hurricanes this summer, and check out these tips to rid your home and your pet of those parasitic pests.
To effectively eradicate fleas from your home, you must treat both your pet and their environment. Your pets should be on a monthly flea preventative to stop them from becoming a shuttle service for fleas in your home. The flea control products we offer here at Prytania Veterinary Hospital are fast-acting, long-lasting, and cost-effective. Please consult your veterinarian for the best product for your pet to keep fleas and ticks at bay. While treating your pet for fleas can be as simple as giving a pill every month, treating your environment may be more complicated.
The Circle of (Flea) Life!
- Eggs: An adult flea will begin laying eggs soon after it finds a host animal. A female flea can lay up to thirty eggs per day. These eggs fall off of their host as it moves around your environment, lying in wait until they are ready to hatch. Flea eggs take anywhere from two days to two weeks to hatch, however they may hatch faster if temperatures are warm and humidity is high. An accelerated hatch rate means one flea today can become one hundred in a few days and one thousand in a few weeks.
- Larvae: After the host animal has unwittingly spread flea eggs all around your house, the eggs hatch into larvae. Flea larvae shy away from light sources, so they will burrow down into whatever dark corners they can find, making them more difficult to eradicate. Once they’re settled in their dark crevices, flea larvae spend one to two weeks feeding off of organic debris and “flea dirt”—the dried up droppings of adult fleas—until they are ready to spin their cocoons and enter the pupal stage.
- Pupae: During the pupal stage, the cocoon coats the budding flea until their environment is warm and humid and ripe for hatching. Unfortunately, flea pupae don’t simply wither away and die when environmental conditions are unfavorable. A pupa’s cocoon can protect it for months or even years until conditions are right for emergence and a suitable blood host is available. The cocoon’s sticky coating also lodges flea pupae deep in carpets or cracks in hardwood floors, which means routine vacuuming or sweeping is usually not enough to remove them from your environment.
- Adult Fleas: The newly minted adult flea needs a blood meal within a few hours of emerging from its cocoon. Bolstered by their blood meal, adult fleas begin reproducing within 36-48 hours —and so begins another cycle of feeding and breeding until the adult flea dies at the ripe old age of 2-3 months.
Hasta la Fleasta, Baby!
Fleas in your home are in various stages of the flea life cycle at all times. Don’t be surprised if after vacuuming, cleaning, and treating your home, you find yourself re-infested a week or two later. Flea pupae that were protected from cleaning chemicals by their cocoons can emerge as adult fleas and begin the cycle again. To avoid the hassle of multiple infestations, follow the steps below for flea treating your home:
- Vacuum any surfaces or furniture your pet can access, including hard wood as flea eggs can fall deep into the cracks. Throw out the bag after!
- Sweep and mop hardwood and tile flooring.
- Wash all bedding your pet can access and any pet toys that can be washed on a high temperature.
- Take your dog for rides in the car? Vacuum your vehicle!
- After cleaning, treat your home and yard with an insecticidal premise spray effective against fleas and ticks. For your convenience, we carry both a home and yard spray here at Prytania Vet. Focus on areas that aren’t exposed to much light and where pets spend most of their time. For example, the sun will kill anything in the middle of your yard so don’t waste your product there.
- Repeat the above steps 3-4 weeks after your initial treatment to ensure all stages of flea life have been eliminated.
Be sure to read all product labels and consult your veterinarian if you need help determining the most effective and safe flea removal strategy and products.
(Veterinary Nurse/Kennel Assistant – Team member since 2016)