Summer time is prime time for flea infestations in middle Tennessee. It all starts in May when the weather warms and animals and pets are beginning to move around outside. The flea pupa have been laying dormant and are awaiting the proper conditions to emerge and become biting adults. Did you know that the adult flea can remain in the protective cocoon (pupa phase) for up to 5 months waiting for the proper conditions before if emerges? Heat, carbon dioxide, and vibrations are all triggers that tell the adult when to emerge. The adult female is the only flea stage that requires a blood meal and will bite a host. The adult flea generally makes up less than 5% of the total population inside a household. The other 95% are the ones you don’t see: the eggs, larva, and pupa. This is why it can be difficult to to control fleas. But, more on this later.
What can the homeowner do to prevent flea infestations?
There are steps that a homeowner can take to help prevent a flea infestation. We highly recommend talking with your pet’s veterinarian about flea control for your four-legged family member. They will usually recommend a product that can be used on the pet to help keep the pet from bringing outdoor fleas inside the home. Outdoors, it is a good idea to keep the grass trimmed on a regular basis and all shaded areas free from overgrown bushes, shrubs, and debris. Fleas can not survive for long in direct sunlight. Also keep the crawl space access properly sealed to keep pets, feral animals, and rodents from entering and leaving behind a flea infestation. Wash pet bedding on a regular basis to help remove any flea eggs, larva, and pupa that may have been left behind.
I have fleas!! Now what??
If you have a flea infestation, the first thing that needs to be done is to ensure your pet has been properly treated. Please discuss this with your pet’s veterinarian. Next, wash all of the pet bedding and vacuum all of the floors in the house. This includes hard surfaces and carpets. Use the crack and crevice tool along the baseboards to help remove any pet hair and flea dirt. Vacuum under beds and furniture, and pick up clutter. Fleas love the cracks and crevices. The vacuum can pick up to 60% of the eggs, larva, pupa and adult fleas in the home. Vacuum every day for the quickest relief. And don’t forget, empty the canister or dispose of the bag from the vacuum after each cleaning or the fleas will emerge out of the vacuum!
Once the cleaning is done, now you can consider a flea treatment. At this time, you can find a do-it-yourself product or call The Bug Man. If you do it yourself, please read the label and follow the directions carefully. Flea treatments take time to work. Once the flea treatment is applied, the adult fleas will continue to emerge from the pupa cases (cocoons) and continue to bite before the flea treatment has time to kill them. This is normal and the cycle can last a few days to a few weeks, depending on the level of infestation and how often you vacuum! Please refrain from repeated applications of flea sprays, as most products will have limits on how often they should be re-applied. Safety first!
Aside from the cleaning benefits of the vacuum there is another major reason why you vacuum. Vibrations!! Remember that I mentioned that flea pupa can lie dormant for months? Well, they will emerge from the pupa phase if they detect that a blood meal may be nearby. The vibrations from the vacuum on a daily basis sends a signal to them that there is activity in the area. The faster you get them to emerge from the pupa phase and start moving around, the faster they will come in contact with the treated surfaces and begin the cycle of elimination.
What can I do to prevent fleas?
Our customers have asked, so The Bug Man has begun an exterior flea prevention add-on service for our 4 Season Pest Service. During each quarterly seasonal service, our certified technician will provide an inspection and exterior treatment for the prevention of fleas. We target the areas that fleas are likely to nest. With this protection, in the unlikely chance that you have an interior flea infestation, The Bug Man will provide interior flea treatment as necessary at no extra cost. The Bug Man also offers flea infestation service if you are not currently a 4 Seasons Pest Service customer.