Fleas are common household pests attacking dogs, cats and sometimes people. In addition to these, several other fleas species feeding principally on rodents and occasionally on poultry and livestock.
Adult fleas are approximately 1/12 to 1/8 inch long, wingless, reddish-brown, hard bodied and compressed from side to side like the blade of a knife. Fleas are excellent jumpers, which gives the false impression that they can fly.
Adult fleas are primarily external parasites of cats and dogs but, in the absence of their preferred hosts, will bite humans.
Adult fleas have piercing-sucking mouthparts with which they penetrate the skin for a blood meal. Flea bites most often occur on legs, particularly around the ankles. The typical human reaction to a flea bite is the formation of a small, hard, red, slightly raised, itching spot with no swelling. Some bleeding can occur, particularly if the bitten area is scratched.
Fleas can be successfully controlled only when infested pests and premises are treated at the same time. Effective flea management involves: Inspection
- Treatment of indoor premises
- Treatment of outdoor premises
- Treatment of pets
Exclusion of alternate (substitute) hosts Inspection. Pay attention to family members who complain of bites. Inspect the bites to determine if they are typical of fleas. Also, observe if cats and dogs scratch and bite themselves, as this can be an indication of flea infestation. Small black specks of dried blood (“flea dirt”) found at the base of your pet’s tail or in the lower abdomen and groin area are sure signs of fleas being present.
An effective way of inspecting for fleas in rugs and furniture is to put a pair of white knee-length socks on over your pant legs and walk through the areas. Adult fleas will jump onto the socks where they can be easily seen.
Sanitation. Good housekeeping helps minimize flea problems by eliminating food, hiding and breeding areas. Infested rugs, blankets, pillows and bedding used by cats and dogs must be thoroughly cleaned. Vacuum floors, carpeting, upholstered furniture, and pet resting areas regularly to remove all stages of fleas. The vacuum bag must be promptly frozen or disposed of outside. Daily vacuuming of carpets and furniture is recommended if flea problems persist.
Treating for flees at your home : The use of insect growth inhibitors and residual insecticides.
Frequently dust, sweep, vacuum, and mop all surfaces where pets or you
have been. Eggs are laid on the pet and drop off as it moves.
All affected pets should be treated at this time.