Fleas - The Facts

Fleas (order Siphonaptera):

Fleas can occur in premises where domestic pets live, and in premises where there is a population of birds. The fleas most commonly encountered are the cat flea (ctenocephalides felis) and the bird flea (ceratophyllus gallinae). The human flea (pulex irritans) is now very rare in the UK.

Cat Flea:

Appearance of an adult cat flea, they are approximately 3mm in length. The body is flattened from side to side with very well developed spines and legs specially designed for jumping. The colour would normally be dark red to black. It is impossible to positively identify a flea without having placed it under a microscope.

Treatment for fleas:

Treatment for animals must be undertaken only be a veterinarian or by the owner. This treatment of animals must be carried out in conjunction with our spray treatment of the premises. Infested premises must be thoroughly cleaned to remove any debris that larvae may be feeding upon. All debris should be removed from the premises in a sealed bag and disposed of carefully into a dustbin. All infected animal bedding should be either washed, dry cleaned or destroyed. Bedding should never be sprayed.

When this preparation work has been carried out, it is then time to carry out the spray treatment. All humans and animals should vacate the property during treatment and animals should not be allowed back inside until the area has dried out.

Biology of fleas:

Fleas lay eggs that are 0.5mm in length. They are laid singly in the vicinity of the host. Several hundred eggs may be laid by one female flea. The eggs hatch into legless larvae which grow in length to approximately 5mm.

The larvae feed on organic matter and on the partly digested blood excreted by the adult fleas. They pupate in a silken cocoon. The adult flea does not emerge immediately from the cocoon, but may be stimulated by the presence of a nearby host. This is why hordes of fleas sometimes attack people entering premises which may have been empty for a long time. Adult fleas can live for many weeks without out a feed of blood, although feeding is necessary to stimulate egg production.

Fleas are known to act as the intermediate host of the dog tapeworm (dipylidium caninum), which can also affect humans. Cat fleas can be found on both cats and dogs.