Despite numerous scientific and technological advances, fleas continue to pose a challenge to pet owners all across the world. Today we have numerous flea control products available in the market but we still need to educate ourselves about everything that is there to know about these elusive creatures. So today, I’m compiling a list of questions along with their answers about common things you might want to know about fleas.
1. How high can a flea jump?
The common household flea is the Ctenocephalides felis species. The English name for this is the cat flea but you will also find this species on dogs, birds and rodents etc. Fleas are ½ an inch in length and have six legs. They have especially strong hind legs which enable them to jump very high. Fleas can jump up to 200 times their own length, almost as far as 13 inches!
2. Are fleas attracted to light?
Fleas are known to be attracted to warm, soft lighting. That is why you can readily make a flea trap by placing a dish of soapy water under a night light. They get attracted to the light while the water drowns them. Naturally, such a trap can only be useful for fleas in the environment and not for the ones residing on the pets because once fleas have made a home on your pets’ body, they are not likely to leave it until the conditions force them to.
3. Can you drown fleas?
Yes, fleas can drown in hot, soapy water. This is the main reason why you should shampoo all your rugs, carpets and wash all of your pets’ bedding in hot soapy water. It is also very important to bathe your infested pets using vet approved flea shampoos. The soapy water helps drown the fleas residing on the pets’ fur. Once-a-week baths may be necessary to keep pets healthy and flea-free.
4. Do fleas die in the winter?
This is a myth and it often leads to pet owners trying to save a few bucks by not using appropriate flea control for winters. Many owners think they only need to use spot treatment along with fastidious grooming during summer and spring. This can lead to massive infestations since our homes are usually warm in winters with central heating providing a suitable environment for fleas to reproduce and thrive. Fleas usually begin to populate our homes and gardens during later winters and early spring. So if you wait until summer to treat your pet, you are going to be months late and fleas will already have been established in your home. Therefore, it is important to keep up with flea control throughout winter especially if you have had a flea problem in the warmer months.
5. Does blue Dawn® kill fleas?
Almost all dish soaps are effective in killing fleas. Dawn® dish soap is especially beneficial because it reduces surface tension of water and drowns the fleas. Many pet owners have seen success by washing their pets with Dawn® dish soap.
6. How long does it take for fleas to starve?
Most fleas can survive for nearly 3 months without having a blood-meal. However, fleas need blood for completing many of their lifecycle stages and females cannot lay eggs until they have had their first meal when they reach the adult stage.
7. Can fleas kill humans?
Fleas can bite humans in absence of other hosts. However, fleas are typically not dangerous to humans (although they have been known to carry diseases), but they can be extremely annoying. They can often cause severe itchiness and in some case, dermatitis and allergies. Fleas can also cause severe anemia in kittens and harm them enough to kill them.
8. Does garlic repel fleas?
Garlic does repel fleas. However, feeding garlic in excess to dogs and cats can be dangerous as it could cause hemolytic anemia. You can however, add a bit of crushed garlic and vinegar on the pet’s fur to repel fleas. Some people do add a bit of crushed garlic to dog/cat food and that is known to help repel fleas, but this method should not be the only flea control method you practice. Besides buying products for flea prevention, you can also try making your own flea repellent.
9. When is flea season?
In the United States, fleas start becoming active in the warmer months, starting as early as the beginning of March. In the winter months, outdoor fleas, larvae and eggs can die off due to low humidity levels but the ones indoors can still survive and remain dormant. Therefore, all year round flea control is recommended.
10. Which states have the most fleas?
Warmer states like Florida have the most fleas all year round while colder states like Chicago see a drop in flea populations during the months of peak winter due to low humidity. In other dry states with low humidity levels, flea populations drop based on the weather conditions.
11. What is IGR and how does it work?
IGR stands for Insect Growth Regulators. These are flea control products or insecticides that are least toxic to humans and pets but they work on all stages of the fleas life cycles to eliminate their eggs, larvae and adults. IGRs are available in form of flea collars, spot treatment and sprays, flea bombs, shampoos, powders and foggers etc.
Humans are not the preferred diet of fleas. Fleas prefer other mammals like dogs and cats to get their blood meals and complete their lifecycle stages. That said; if you allow your pets in your bed, chances are that fleas will bite you. Fleas staying on your pets’ bodies will likely remain with them but if you have used flea powders or sprays, they will jump off and land on your skin. Children tend to get bitten more frequently than adults do, so it is best to discourage your pets from getting into bed with you. Here is a guide that can help you get rid of fleas in your bed.
13. Do fleas prefer some people over others?
Fleas use the scent and carbon dioxide gas emitted by sleeping individuals when finding their hosts for blood meals. Each of us has a different scent owing to our unique chemical makeup. That is why some people are more likely to get bitten than others. Also, some victims are naturally more sensitive to flea bites. When fleas bite humans, they inject anti-coagulatory compounds to prevent the blood from clotting. This allows fleas to suck the blood easily. Some people are more sensitive to this flea saliva enzyme and to counter it, their body secretes histamine causing redness, swelling and blistering etc. So, even though everyone in the family may get bitten by fleas; only a few people might show actual signs of being bitten.
14. Does washing laundry kill fleas?
It is very important to launder all infested items like pet bedding, rugs, carpets, bed sheets, clothes etc on the hottest possible setting of the washer and dryer. This helps drown the fleas and the heat also kills eggs and larvae.
15. How fast do fleas spread?
Fleas spread rapidly because a female flea can lay nearly 25 to 50 eggs per day. These eggs then mature into adult fleas within 3-4 weeks, creating new populations, and before you know it, you have a full-blown flea infestation in your home. Therefore, it is very important to take necessary steps to eliminate fleas as soon as you spot the first one.
16. What is flea fumigation?
Flea fumigation is a form of flea control. It is best done by professional flea exterminators. You need to prepare your house for flea fumigation by moving furniture away from walls and folding carpets so that the fumigation products can be applied to all areas. Apart from flea fumigation, you also need to bathe your infested pets and wash and launder their bedding. This is the only surefire method of eliminating all fleas.