Effective control normally consists of one or two applications a week or so apart, using residual insecticides to carpets, rugs, hard floors, soft furniture etc. throughout the affected property.
Throws, blankets, cushion covers etc should be hot-washed or dry cleaned.
Pets must be treated by suitable pet products (not insecticides) and animal bedding must be boil washed, or if a heavy infestation, discarded.
During such treatments, all affected rooms need to be vacated and not entered for an hour afterwards, ideally with windows open. Offices and other places of work are, therefore, normally treated after hours.
Once the insecticide is dry, normal life can continue, however, vacuum cleaning carpets must be avoided for 2-3 days afterwards to prevent sucking up the insecticidal residue.
Flea Biology & Habits
Fleas are parasites, feeding directly on humans or other warm blooded animals. Usually you or your pet serve as the host. A flea can jump up to 20cm vertically and 40cm horizontally.
A skin reaction to a flea bite appears as a slightly raised and red itchy spot. This itch is often delayed until an anesthetic in the insect’s saliva wears off.
Fleas go through a complete metamorphosis of which there are four distinct stages: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult. Flea eggs are laid on the host or are deposited on the floor or ground, in undisturbed areas. They also are often found in upholstery or pet’s bedding. A female flea will continue to lay 4-8 eggs every day until she has yielded up 400 eggs. These eggs will develop into flea larvae within 2 days to several weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity.
Flea larvae are active and look like maggots. The larvae will feed on organic debris, but particularly like to feed on the faeces of the adult flea as this “flea diet” contains undigested blood. The flea larvae are hard to spot and are found deep in the carpets or the cracks and crevices of floors and upholstery. They are very difficult to vacuum, because they get entwined in the carpet fibres.
The next stage, called the pupae looks like a cocoon, also hard to spot. Under warm conditions many adult fleas will emerge from their protective cocoon within 7 to 14 days, although they can remain dormant for several months until disturbed by vibrations caused by human or animal movement nearby that signifies a food source.
Whenever you see adult fleas crawling on your pet, it is only a symptom of a much larger problem. Current studies indicate that adult fleas account for only 5% of the total flea population in any given situation. Eggs account for 50%, larvae account for about 35%, and the remaining 10% are the pupa cocoons. That means that for every single adult flea living on your dog or cat, there are 10 eggs, 7 larvae, and 2 cocoons.
Cat and dog fleas are the common pests in the U.K. Feral birds and their nests are also sources of flea infestation, (and other insect pests such as mites and lice) which can migrate indoors in search of hosts.