The same tiny pest that spread the Bubonic Plague in the fourteenth century is alive and well today: the common flea. Flea bites are a source of pain for both pets and humans, especially those living in warm, humid climates. Fleas can be found outdoors in cool, moist, shady areas, such as shrubs, leaves, and trees. If they make their way indoors, they are apt to infest everywhere.
Fleas make their homes in beds, carpets, and furniture. They can even survive just fine in the cracks of hardwood floors. Because of how well they adapt to the indoor climate, they are not easy for the untrained to get rid of on their own. Fleas have four life cycle stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Even if you can clear a beloved pet of visible fleas, there could still be more unseen eggs, larvae, or pupae nearby, waiting to hatch and feed on a host.
Flea eggs are usually laid on a host animal
in bunches of twenty eggs. As the host animal moves around, the eggs can fall off onto carpets and floors and anywhere else the host animal goes, making it very hard to halt their spread. After fleas hatch, they spin a tiny cocoon for themselves. This cocoon has a hard, sticky outer coating. This makes it difficult to vacuum them out of carpets or treat them with store bought pesticides. Flea pupae can lie dormant in those cocoons for up to five months.
Eventually, the fleas will sense the presence of animals nearby and come out of their cocoons to feed on the new host. In younger stages of life, fleas can feed on dead skin cells; later, they will need blood to survive. Vacuuming and cleaning a house can reduce the chances of fleas emerging, but your best chance at flea eradication is a professional service such as Empire Pest Control.
Controlling flea infestations is vitally important, not only because flea bites are irritating, but because fleas can actually spread dangerous diseases
. The Bubonic Plague may be a thing of the past, but at least four other serious diseases are still spread by fleas
- Murine Typhus causes headaches, fever, nausea, and rashes.
- Mycoplasma haemofelis is a dangerous bacterial disease for cats. The disease attacks the cat’s red blood cells, causing anemia.
- Tapeworms can actually be passed by adult fleas. Pets or small children can ingest fleas carrying a tapeworm. Tapeworms cause nausea, stomach pain, and/or weight loss.
- Cat Scratch Disease can be passed from fleas to cats to humans. It can cause symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, and swollen lymph nodes.