Fleas: A Guide for Homeowners
You come home from a weekend away, and as you step through the front door your legs are attacked by blood thirsty fleas! They almost look like they are flying but they are just really good jumpers, and they are hungry. Chances are good that your flea infestation came from a pet, but that isn’t always the case.
We’re all familiar with flea problems caused by pets, but you can get fleas even if you don’t have pets. Fleas can come from stray animals and neighbor’s pets that come in or around your home in some cases. Children can bring fleas into the house after playing in the grass, used furniture and other household items can be infested. Even clothing can be infested and introduce fleas into your home.
Getting to Know the Enemy
Regardless of how you got them, you know you want to get rid of fleas, so you need to know a little bit about the enemy you’re facing. Fleas go through four distinct stages of evolution starting with eggs, then larvae, followed by the pupae and finally, the adult flea.
- Egg: The life of a flea starts when an adult female lays eggs after feeding on a blood meal. The eggs are white and no larger than a grain of sand and are found in clusters of about 20 or so. Clusters of eggs usually fall off of pet’s fur or some other source, take up residency in your home and usually hatch in a week or two.
- Larvae: The second stage of the life of a flea starts when the egg hatches and the larvae emerge. They avoid light because they are born blind and feed on pre-digested blood supplied by adult fleas until the larvae more fully develop. After 1 to 3 weeks, depending on conditions, the larva will spin a cocoon.
- Pupae: The cocoon, or pupae, is the third stage of the life of a flea and the last one before becoming an adult. These cocoons have a sticky outer surface that keeps them protected from typical housekeeping and allow them to stay put until they emerge as adults.
- Adult: The final stage of the flea is the adult who must find a host and begin feeding within hours of emerging. Once they have had their first meal, adult fleas begin breeding and laying eggs within days.
While there are over-the-counter pesticides available for homeowners that can help with a flea infestation, for a thorough, permanent solution you may want to consider a professional pest control company. An experienced exterminator can determine what specific flea you have, the degree of infestation and, most importantly, the safest, most effective way to get rid of your fleas.