Flea Infestation – The Silent Threat That Sucks Blood
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Fleas don’t just bite pets. They’ll bite humans to feed on their blood if they’re infesting your home.
Flea infestation in the house will lead to flea bites, which look like acne-like rashes on the ankles, calves, and feet. And they intensely itch.
However, fleas also carry bacteria that they can transfer to humans. These bacteria can cause the nasty flea-borne disease, which is known as flea typhus.
In this guide you’ll find out the straight forward ways to get rid of fleas in the house fast.
You’ll also find a few tips to keep fleas away and prevent future infestations.
Identifying Adult Fleas
If you’re waking up with bug bites, especially bites that look like pimples, then you may think of it as a mosquito bite or bed bug bite.
It’s essential to be sure about the type of pest that you’re dealing with. Wrong identification can lead to wrong and irrelevant methods that can worsen the infestation.
Fleas are dark reddish brown with a tapered body. They’re not oval and flat like bed bugs. They’ve a hard shiny shell and an adult flea grow up to 0.13 inches or 3.3 mm in size.
Their body shape helps them to navigate through fur and skin in animals. It also helps them to sneak inside tight gaps, like cracks on the bed frame and headboard, to hide.
Fleas have a pair of long hind legs that helps them to jump. And they can infest homes and bite humans and animals to fulfil their blood thirsty needs.
But fleas are not the only jumping bugs in the house. There can be many more.
Like all pests that infest homes, fleas too leave behind the signs of their presence.
Let’s find out the signs of fleas in the house.
Adult Fleas In The House
Fleas are common household pests and most flea infestations stem from many sources such as pets and introduction of flea-infested items in the home.
Pets are primary carriers of fleas in the house. They bring fleas from the outdoors or from other animals and transfer them to places like bed, carpeted areas, couch, and pet bedding.
However, you too can bring fleas home. If you’ve been to flea habitat, which is dense vegetation in the shaded areas, then fleas can latch onto your clothing, luggage, and socks.
These fleas will hitchhike on to your belongings and reach your home.
Buying second hand furniture, such as carpets, rugs, and couches, with fleas in them can trigger a flea infestation in the house.
A home without pets can also have an infestation when wildlife such as racoons and skunks with fleas transfer the pests to places like your basement and garage.
Adult fleas are one of the signs of flea infestation. And even one flea in the house can cause an infestation.
But there are two more signs that many people overlook. These are flea eggs and flea dirt.
Flea eggs resemble salt grains. They’re oval-shaped and these eggs are only 0.5 mm in size.
So, these eggs are impossible to spot.
However, fleas in the bed will lay eggs in your bed and in other areas where they’re hiding. These eggs produce flea larvae, which are 2 to 5 mm in size.
The larvae have creamy white bodies with a thin layer of hairy bristles. Flea larvae in bed often referred to as bed worms (along with larvae of other insects).
The flea larvae turn into flea pupae. Pupae is the life cycle stage in fleas in which they cocoon themselves before emerging out as adult fleas.
It’s important to kill flea pupae, too, to eliminate fleas. You’ll find out how to do it in a minute.
Flea larvae don’t bite people. And they don’t feed on human flood. They feed on flea feces, which are also a sign flea infestations in homes.
Flea feces contains the blood of the host they fed on. Flea fecal matter is known as flea dirt because when it solidifies, it appear as reddish-black dirt particles.
Flea dirt is visible in places where there’s considerable flea population. So, places like pet’s bedding, your bed, and other hiding places such as carpets and the cracks on hardwood floors can have flea dirt.
People always confuse flea feces with bed bugs feces. But there are considerable differences between flea feces and bed bug feces.
Bed bug feces appear as blackish spots on the bed, not as dirt particles.
One way to check if it’s a flea dirt or bed bug feces on the fabric is by pouring a bit of water on them. You’ll start to notice reddish stains on the fabric, which is because of the presence of the blood in the feces.
Fleas Bite People
Fleas, such as cat fleas, bite people and flea bites can transmit diseases such as flea-borne typhus. Fleas in pets can cause anemia, itching, and loss of hair in them.
Fleas bite near the ankles and the bites always appear in clusters. The the bite wound causes intense itching.
So, now that you know how flea infestations occur and what are their signs, lets’ get into how to get rid of fleas.
Kill Fleas In Pets
Fleas resemble poppy seeds and it’s vital to check your pet for fleas, flea eggs, and flea feces. Pet treatment for fleas from a reliable veterinarian eliminates fleas in the pets.
The veterinarian can recommend topical treatments with flea control products such as flea comb, flea collars, and flea shampoo to kill fleas and their larvae on your pet’s skin and fur.
Inspecting your pet regularly for any signs of fleas in them also helps in keeping fleas away.
Also, flea comb regularly to ensure that your pet dog or cat doesn’t catch fleas.
But all bugs in dogs are not fleas.
Pets, especially dogs, can also have sand fleas if you take them to the beach. However, sand fleas are not parasitic insects like the cat or dog fleas.
Clean Your Upholstery With Steam Cleaner
Steam cleaning is a highly reliable process to kill adult fleas, their eggs, and larvae. Fleas die when they encounter the heat steam cleaners produce.
Steam clean the bed mattresses, carpets, pet beds, and other areas where you’ve noticed fleas.
Be slow and methodical and do not skip any edges, corners, and cracks on beds, floors, carpeted areas, sofas, and other flea-infested areas.
The heat will kill all the fleas hiding in these places.
Wash Clothes And Fabric In Hot Water
Washing infested clothing in hot soapy water and drying them in high heat is a reliable flea treatment to get rid of fleas on clothes.
Your clothes can have fleas latching onto them if you’ve been to a flea habitat.
If there are fleas in the bed, which is very likely in a house with fleas, then washing the bed fabrics in hot water is also essential.
Hot soapy water helps in killing fleas in all life stages, including juvenile fleas (which are flea larvae), pupae, and flea eggs.
Vacuum Clean The Whole House
Regularly vacuum your home with a vacuum cleaner to eliminate any additional fleas hiding in your home.
Vacuum carpets and other soft furnishings such as accent chairs with cushions, couches, pet bed, daily to remove remaining eggs and adult fleas.
Furniture and hardwood floors can also be hiding places for fleas, so, don’t skip cleaning them too.
Flea Treatments For Yard
Your yard can be a breeding ground for fleas.
Fleas lurk in the tall grasses and dense bushes to latch onto your pet and to your clothes.
These fleas then travel to your home and cause flea infestations.
Remove or trim any overgrown bushes and plants where fleas can hide. Flea control products, such as insect growth regulator, play a significant role to kill fleas in all life stages.
Scatter the IGR in the flea habitat. IGRs work by getting inside eggs and flea larvae and prevent them from maturing into adult fleas. They help in killing fleas and by disrupting how they grow and reproduce.
Insect growth regulator is a reliable flea control product. But you must follow the safety instructions on the label before using it.
Also, treat your lawn regularly by scattering baking soda or diatomaceous earth, which are natural ways of flea control.
Use Flea Repellents
There are many flea repellents that you can use as a spray to keep fleas away from the house. They’re effective and essential in flea control by keeping fleas away.
I recommend peppermint oil spray. Put the oil in the spray bottle and spray it in the areas like your bed, windows, and soft furnishings such as carpets and rugs.
You’ve other options too such as cedar oil, tea tree oil, lavender oil, and home products such as dish soap spray and white vinegar.
Prevent Pets From Sleeping On Your Bed
Your furry friend might be interested in sleeping on your bed. Cats and dogs do so quite often.
However, it’s essential to keep pets away from the bed. Flea eggs, adult fleas, and flea larvae can fall off your pet’s skin and fur if your pets sleep on the bed.
It’s best to let your pet sleep on the pet’s bed. And, as I mentioned, keep a track on your pet for any signs of fleas.
Follow Up Treatments
Fleas are tiny pests that suck blood and bite humans and animals. Detecting and eliminating these biting bugs can be difficult because of their small size.
So, it’s vital that you monitor the house for any flea activity. You can do it by keeping flea traps in areas where you’ve noticed fleas.
Repeat the above steps if you find fleas. And, in most cases, especially when the flea infestation is bad, you’ll need to treat your home multiple times to completely get rid of fleas in the house.
Do not hesitate to hire a pest controller if you’re efforts are not giving you the desired results.
Fogger Sprays for Flea Control? DON’T DO IT
Fogger sprays and flea bombs are easy to use. And their ease of usage can trick you into using them.
However, I, as entomologist who has advised a ton of pest control professionals, don’t recommend using fogger sprays.
The reason is that they don’t have enough residual toxicity that can kill entire flea population in the house.
It also alerts fleas and causes them to spread in the rest of the areas of the house. That’s why many homeowners notice fleas even after bombing.
You don’t want that.
The University of Kentucky also doesn’t recommend using fogger sprays and bug bombs because of the risks they bring and because of their ineffectiveness.
If the flea infestation in your home is severe, then it’ll be best to hire a professional pest controller rather than using flea bombs.
If you’ve ever wondered what to do if you’ve a flea infestation in the house, then this guide laid out the answer.
You’ll need to treat your pets for fleas. And you’ll also need to thoroughly clean your entire home.
A thriving yard can be a source of fleas. This guide laid out how you can treat your yard by removing the unnecessary vegetation and by using insect growth regulators.
Fixing a flea infestation can take time because these pests are tiny and can be hard to detect. Multiple follow up treatments are necessary.
Depending on the severity of flea infestation, and the complex life cycle of fleas, it might take 2-3 weeks to completely get rid of fleas.