Owning a cat or a dog is a great responsibility, especially since these animals can develop a series of health issues and contract various bugs, ticks, and fleas, even when they live inside.
If you want to keep your home and your pets safe, it would be best to set up an efficient trap for fleas or look for alternative treatments. Let’s take a closer look at these insects and find out more about their habitat and how to get rid of them.
There are over 2,500 species of insects that survive as external parasites on birds and mammals, commonly known as fleas. These small insects live by consuming blood out of their hosts.
Although they don’t have wings like mosquitoes, much like them they come with specific mouthparts that are adapted for piercing the skin and sucking the blood out of it.
These small dark brown insects can jump up to 150 times their own length, making them one of the most amazing insects existing on the planet. They easily manage to jump from one host to another, thanks to these abilities, which makes them even harder to get.
Although they require blood to survive, this doesn’t mean that they cannot nest in the surrounding environment, waiting for the perfect host to arrive. Thus, it is quite hard to anticipate where they will lay eggs and start their new colony, as any environment can look appealing.
What is the lifecycle of a flea?
Contrary to common beliefs, only 5% of the fleas are adults and actively feeding on blood, while the rest of 95% live as pupae, larvae, and eggs.
The lifecycle of a flea from eggs to maturity takes around 2 weeks during the warmer months and can last up to 6 months if the conditions are harsh. In order to efficiently get rid of fleas, you have to break the entire lifecycle and not only kill the adults.
An adult female flea can lay up to 50 eggs daily, dropping them in welcoming environments before hatching. The eggs that are hatched grow into larvae which will further move away from direct sunlight, seeking dark and humid environments.
Larvae feed on organic debris and can even eat tapeworm eggs, which makes them an intermediate host until the latter can properly develop.
Once the fleas reach adulthood, they will be able to seek the perfect hosts to feed on and start laying eggs on their own.
How do pets get fleas?
Unlike other species of insects, flea eggs can remain dormant for long periods, regardless of the conditions. They lay dormant anywhere from your garden to your floors or furniture until they find a suitable host to travel to a new location. Unfortunately, most furry animals and birds can become hosts and even humans.
How can you tell if your pet has fleas?
As we previously mentioned, once fleas reach adulthood, they are ready to feed on living hosts, be they humans, animals or birds.
One of the easiest ways to see if your pet was infested with fleas is to check its behavior for a few hours. If its skin starts getting red and itchy, fleas have already fed on it.
Can fleas live in carpets?
Once fleas find a suitable host, they stick on it until it leads them to the perfect place to lay eggs and hatch. And, since they breed very fast, one single flea on your pet can infest the entire house in a matter of days.
Your home can become the perfect place for fleas to thrive as it is warm, humid, and comes with countless hideouts that can protect them. To put it shortly, around 83% of the fleas can end up living deep in the carpets, and in other places such as furniture or curtains.
How can you get rid of fleas?
Getting rid of fleas is not easy, as you have to eliminate both the adults and the eggs. It is a long-lasting task and you may even require the help of a professional to make sure you avoid an infestation. Luckily, there are plenty of methods to get rid of fleas once and for all, and here are some of the most efficient.
Vacuum your house thoroughly
If you suspect you share your house with fleas, the first measure you need to take is to vacuum all of it thoroughly. Use a nozzle attachment for your vacuum to make sure you clean each inch of the carpets and insist on the corners of the room and the baseboards.
Fleas prefer hiding in humid and dark areas, so you should also use the vacuum to clean underneath the furniture.
Thick curtains may not only hide dust and debris but also a series of pests, including fleas. Therefore, you should use a hand vacuum or a steamer to remove stains, dirt, debris, and other potential pests from them as often as possible.
As a general rule, you should clean your house thoroughly once a week, twice if you have pets living inside and children. Apart from making sure the air they breathe is clean, you won’t allow fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, spiders, and other small bugs from inhabiting your house.
If your pets live inside, it would be best to focus on the areas of your house your pet usually spends time in, and that includes the furniture and the baseboards. Also, if you suspect heavy infestations, you should thoroughly vacuum the entire home daily for two weeks.
Washing and steaming
If you don’t think vacuuming will do the trick, you need to invest in a carpet steamer also. Don’t forget to wash your pet’s bedding and even some of its toys to make sure you also kill the flea eggs.
Try using natural remedies
Although there are many chemical substances that promise to get you rid of fleas once and for all, you should first opt for more natural, non-invasive methods.
One of the best flea repellants is vinegar and it has proven efficient against eggs and adult fleas alike. You can create a homemade remedy by mixing one part vinegar with one part water directly into a spray bottle. You can use various types of vinegar, including apple cider and white vinegar. Shake the mixture well and spray it onto the carpets, floors, furniture, and underneath it.
Another natural remedy for fleas can be made by cutting three lemons into thin slices and then adding around two cups of water into a pot. Put the lemons inside the pot and boil them for a couple of minutes. Leave the lemons inside the water overnight and then remove them.
Put the lemon water into a spray bottle and apply on the carpets, rugs, and furniture all around the house.
How to protect your pets
Most of the times, pets will be the ones bringing in fleas, so you need to look after their hygiene properly. Keep in mind that fleas are usually active from early spring to late fall, so consider using flea collars and special shampoos and topical solutions for your pets that not only get rid of adult fleas but also kill the eggs.