Although most people have heard of fleas, many would not be able to identify a flea by sight much less know anything about its biology or behavior. Gnats, mites, specks of dust and static electricity are all commonly mistaken for fleas. Lack of proper knowledge and frustration many times leads to misapplications and gross overuse of over the counter pesticides.
Fleas are small wingless insects with bodies that are flattened from side to side. Adult flea bodies are also covered with spines that project backwards. These physical characteristics allow fleas to move swiftly between hairs in an animal’s fur and also make their removal very difficult when an animal shakes or scratches.
So why does a flea need physical characteristics that allow them to stay put on animals? The answer is that fleas are ectoparasites. Ectoparasites feed on and in many cases live on, their host. In the case of fleas, animals are their host and adult fleas feed on animal blood in order to survive and reproduce. Fleas will also bite people if the opportunity arises.
Being blood feeders and biting people are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to flea concerns. Fleas are actually considered public health pests and for several reasons. Many fleas carry disease-causing pathogens and can vector bacteria or viruses to humans and animals. Fleas are probably most well known for their ability to transmit plague to humans.
In 14th century Europe, fleas were responsible for an outbreak of plague that killed 25 million people. In addition to disease transmission, flea bites are annoying, and will often cause allergic reactions or dermatitis in humans and animals. Also, some fleas can carry and transmit parasites to both humans and animals. One parasite in particular, the tapeworm, is commonly transmitted by fleas to dogs and cats. In fact, when a dog or cat is infested with fleas, a veterinarian will often automatically treat that animal for tapeworms.
Because fleas can wreak havoc when they infest a home or building, it is important to be educated on their life cycle in order to properly prepare the area for treatment. Although an adult flea lives on an animal host, the immature stages will live in the environment. In a residence, the immature flea stages are commonly found where the pets eat and sleep.
It is essential that you thoroughly vacuum pet areas and treat your pets in conjunction with our flea treatment. Failure to prepare for flea treatments or address flea concerns with pets will result in a failure to control fleas.
For more tips on flea prevention visit our website or call your local pest control experts for a free home consultation.
Follow Nancy Troyano on Google+