How to Eliminate Fleas
Adult fleas feed on blood, but larvae feed on skin, feathers and hair. It is important to know the flea life-cycle in order to eliminate fleas. Regular grooming and sanitation will help monitor for fleas on household pets, and topical insecticides are very effective if needed to eliminate fleas. Fleas transmit disease and parasitic worms, and cause allergic dermatitis to humans and animals so it is extremely important to know how to eliminate fleas. There are about 2,000 different flea species in the world and at least 325 species in North America, all belonging to the order Siphonaptera. Many want to know how to eliminate fleas but it is possible your fleas are confused with other insects that look like fleas.
All Fleas Suck Blood
If fleas didn’t suck blood then not many would care about eliminating fleas. But all adult fleas are blood-sucking external parasites, meaning they require blood for nutrition, but do not live within the host. Also, adult fleas do not usually stay on the host except to feed, which is unlike lice that prefer to always be on the host. Fleas can thrive where warm-blooded animals live close together in regular nests or beds. This partially explains why many rodents have fleas but most large animals (e.g. cows, horses) do not get infested. Interestingly, fleas can jump 200 times their own body length and 80 times their own body height, making them the best jumpers in the world.
Know the Flea Stages of Life to Help Eliminate Fleas
Adults: Flea adults are small insects (1.5-3.3 mm long), usually dark red or brown colored, and have large hind legs for jumping (Fig. 3). Although fleas go through complete metamorphosis, the adults never have wings. Complete development takes 30-75 days, depending on humidity and temperature. The exoskeleton is hardened and covered with hairs and spines that point backward. Adults feed on blood with piercing-sucking mouthparts. Eyes are absent or simple, and depend on antennae for sensory to heat, touch and smell. Adults often have thickened combs near the back of the head to help grasp onto the host while feeding.
Eggs: Flea eggs hatch after 3-10 days, and are round or oval and white in color. Females lay eggs singly near potential host’s nest or directly on the host.
Larvae: Flea larvae are legless and wormlike. Flea larvae usually live in the nest or bedding where they scavenge on organic debris (e.g. hair, feathers) with chewing mouthparts. Full-grown larvae are about 4 mm long and go through three molts before spinning a silken cocoon.
Pupae: The pupal case protects fleas until development is complete. Adult emergence is based on vibrations, heat and carbon dioxide from nearby hosts.
What Do Fleas Eat?
Both adult males and females feed on blood; some females require a blood meal to lay eggs. Most fleas infest mammals, including rodents, dogs, cats, rabbits, and squirrels. Less than 10% feed on birds. In general, fleas are not host-specific and will feed opportunistically. Some flea species will time adult emergence with pregnant female mammals or avian nest return.
The Cat Flea and the Dog Flea
Two prominent fleas are of importance to homeowners. The cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis, has a wide host range and is common on dogs and cats. The dog flea, C. canis, is closely related but not as common. Both the cat and dog fleas will feed on humans; attacks occur when the fleas are denied access to their normal host. The worst human cases are noted when infested pests are removed from the household. Humans are usually bitten near the ankles and lower legs. Skin can be itchy, reddened and swollen. Skin irritations are caused by flea saliva injected into the body during feeding to prevent blood coagulation. Secondary infections can develop if the bites are scratched.
How to Detect Fleas to Eliminate Fleas
Frequent and thorough vacuuming is a necessary part of flea control. Larvae can survive in carpet for an extended period of time without food. The vibrations from the vacuum may also trigger adult emergence and should be done prior to insecticide applications.
How to Clean for Fleas
Infested areas should be cleaned, especially carpet, upholstered furniture, gaps along baseboards, and pet sleeping areas.
Throw away the vacuum bag to avoid re-infestation. Clothing, blankets, and bedding should be laundered frequently with hot water or destroyed.
Suspected infested areas should be monitored regularly, included pet sleeping beds or blankets.
Wear white socks and walk slowly to look for jumping adults.
Reduce the accumulation of loose pet hair around the house to prevent habitat for larvae.
Regular grooming will prevent some adult feeding and may loosen “flea dirt” or excrement from the coat.
Flea Insecticide to Forever Eliminate Fleas
Insecticides are a necessary part of eliminating fleas. Flea infestations are relatively light, so thorough sanitation as described above and a pet treatment is generally effective. Severe infestations may require carpet and furniture treatments. Complete control may take several weeks if flea eggs and pupae are present, so be patient and diligent.
Home Remedy to Eliminate Fleas
If you are adverse the the harsh clemicals of Flea Insecticide, mix a batch of the following.
- Vinegar- 1 gallon (a little less than 4 liters)
- Water- ½ gallon (a little less than 2 liters)
- Lemon juice- 16 oz. (a little less than 500 ml)
- Witch hazel- 8 oz. (a little less than 250 ml)
- Fresh vacuum bag- 1
- Home and Garden Sprayer- 1 (this sprayer should be able to hold at least 6-7 liters at a time)
Vaccum your house well to help eliminate fleas.
After you are done vacuuming, you can start applying the flea spray.
- Collect everything that cannot be vacuumed and wash it at the hottest setting of your washer. This kills even the larvae and eggs of fleas.
- Now vacuum properly. Vacuum each corner, upholstery as well as cervices with the help of various vacuum attachments. Use the fresh vacuum bag. This ensures unrestricted air flow. Debris that collects from earlier vacuuming may hamper smooth air flow.
- Now mix vinegar, water, lemon juice and witch hazel.
- Fill this liquid mix into the garden sprayer.
- Spray using a heavy spray.
- Spray your carpets, furniture, pet bedding, window sills, floors, every nook and corner of your house.
- Do this daily for at least 2-7 days depending upon how bad is the flea infestation in your home.
- When fleas become less noticeable, you may then repeat every 3-4 days and thereafter once a week throughout the flea season.
If you start using this non toxic spray just when the flue season is approaching, you will need to spray only once a week throughout the flea season