Both males and females bite and suck blood. The bite often leaves an itchy, red spot. Some species of fleas transmit diseases such as bubonic plague, murine typhus, and tularemia tapeworms to humans.
While pet owners are primarily at risk for flea infestations, these biting pests can also be brought onto a property via wild animals like raccoons or skunks and then make their way into a home.
The Dog flea and the Cat flea, which look very similar, are the most widespread and troublesome to household pests.
Measuring at about 3mm (1/8 inch) in length and usually brownish black to black, fleas are small flightless insects that live by consuming the blood of their hosts.
Fleas are the most common transmitter of the rare bubonic plague. They also transmit the bacterial disease murine typhus to humans through infected rats. Additionally, fleas can transfer tapeworms and cause anemia in pets, which is why active flea management is an important component of pet care.
Fleas can be very frustrating for anyone to deal with, especially if there is a large infestation in your home or on your pets.
Adult fleas are small, wingless insects with hard dark red or brownish black to black colored bodies.
The size of an adult flea is about 2.5-3 mm (1/8 inch) in length. They are laterally flattened in shape and have two antennae and six legs. Fleas do not possess wings, although their strong legs allow them to jump long distances (about 15 cm or 6” vertically). While they are a small pest, fleas can typically be seen with the naked eye. Adult fleas have bristles that point backward, which allows them to move swiftly through fur, hair, and feathers.
Fleas are bloodsuckers and transfer to new environments by latching onto mammals. Once inside, fleas usually hide in areas where pets and people sleep furniture, beds, and carpeting, as well as the cracks of hardwood floors.
Adult fleas live from a few to 14 days, during which time the females can produce up to 400-500 eggs in her lifetime. These pests transport themselves on rodents and other mammals, usually remaining on their hosts at all times.
How do I recognize a flea?
Fleas are common external parasites of humans, animals and birds. Fleas are small, black to brownish-black, wingless insects with stout legs used for jumping and crawling. Fleas measure 1/16" to 1/8”.
Where do you find fleas?
Fleas are parasites, feeding on blood. They are found on the host (dog, cat, human etc.) and in various household cracks and crevices where they shelter after feeding.
Are fleas hazardous to humans?
Yes. Due to their numbers and world-wide distribution, fleas are a serious health hazard. They have been known to transmit diseases including the bubonic plague which is transmitted to humans from fleas living on rats.
Since the reaction to a flea bite is allergic in nature, itching can be intense. Secondary infections can be caused by scratching, especially in children. The presence of a flea infestation should not be tolerated.
What causes fleas to bite?
Fleas feed on blood and are attracted by host's exhaled carbon dioxide and body heat. In the case of the human flea, bites can be numerous because of interrupted feedings.
What causes a flea infestation?
Fleas hop from host to host, so even a brief encounter can cause you or your pet to become a host. Stray animals sleeping on porches or window sills can start an infestation. Once they enter the home, fleas spread rapidly.
What are their breeding habits? Do they multiply quickly?
The female flea lays several hundred eggs in her lifetime. Eggs are laid loosely on the host drop or are shaken off on to floors, carpets, bedding or other sheltered spots. Eggs hatch in about 10 days and become adults in one to three months. A flea infestation can number in the thousands.
Do fleas die off in cold months?
Yes. Outdoor infestations die off, however once established inside the home, fleas are active year-round.
Can I do anything to prevent a flea infestation?
Yes. The use of a quality flea shampoo on your pet during the peak summer season will help prevent an infestation.
If I have a flea infestation, what can be done to eliminate it?
Your local Abell Pest Control office has products and equipment specially formulated for the control of fleas. Please use extreme caution when applying treatments to animals.
Flea control can be a difficult and time-consuming project. For fast, effective results, call Abell Pest Control.
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