If you own pets then you will most likely know how annoying fleas can be to both your pets and you.
While there are various treatments available for directly treating your pets you should consider treating your home and surrounds if you have a bad flea infestation. If you fail to do so you are most likely setting yourself up for re-infestation of your pet down the track, not to mention you will be bitten yourself if your home is infested.
Fortunately we don't live in the early 1900's. In Sydney 300 people died in the space of eight months as a result of the flea born disease the bubonic plague or "Black Death". The fleas responsible for this where the oriental rat flea. Nowadays fortunately in Australia we don't have cases of this disease however it does still occur in other places around the world.
The only disease within Australia distributed by fleas is murine typhus which is transmitted from rats to humans by a specific rat flea. This is however uncommon.
It is not only pets which are driven crazy by fleas but humans as well. In humans the reaction to a flea bite is often after the flea has had its fill and moved on some 5-30 minutes after the bite and is caused by the saliva of the flea. Over the next 24 hours this can turn into welts and in children in particular become infected if scratched.
Fleas mate on their hosts and either lay there eggs where they drop on the host or in nests.
The two types of fleas which cause the most problems in Australia are the dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) and the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis). While there are many types of fleas of other note are the rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis),human flea (Pulex irritans) and bird flea (Ceratophyllus gallinae). Identification between different types of fleas can be difficult however from a pest control perspective the treatment is the same.
Other interesting flea facts;
Anywhere there is a host. Fleas are closely linked to the animals on which they have adapted to specifically infest. They are also opportunists so if their preferred host is absent they will infest another animal.
Treatment of fleas will be a partnership between you and the pest controller. If you have a bad infestation of fleas it can take some time and repeat treatments to get it under control.
The best form of treatment is chemical and your pest controller will apply different types of chemical to different areas of your house and yard to best treat each area.
To assist in the process your pest controller will ask you to vacuum your home to help pick up larvae and eggs and assist in the disruption of the life cycle of the flea. If you are having a yard treatment for fleas you will also need to cut your lawn fairly short to assist in the application of chemicals to those areas.
The cat flea as it's name suggests is a pest of cats, it is however a major pest of dogs also. The female lays her eggs directly on the host and these eggs, once dry, are designed to fall out of the animal's coat and into the area which the animal frequents the most like their bedding.
These eggs once hatched into their larvae form feed on the fecal matter of the fleas which are still infesting the animal as that fecal matter falls out into areas where the pet frequents. Once the larvae have undertaken a metamorphosis they spin a cocoon and enter the pupal stage.
Once ready to emerge they typically wait until they sense the presence of a potential host. Once emerged they waste no time feeding on the nearby host.
Cat fleas can transmit parasites and disease to your cat, dog or even yourself. These include Bartonella, murine typhus, apedermatitis and tapeworm.
Adults fange from 1 - 2 mm long. The presence of fleas is often noticed by the irritation they cause.
The dog flea, like the cat flea can live on a wide range mammals but typically infests dogs and cats
Like all fleas the results of an infestation are not just annoying but dangerous, particularly to your pets. The dog flea like the cat flea is a vector for diseases and parasites which can infect pets and humans alike.
For your pet however they can develop flea allergy dermatitis which can lead to compulsive scratching and biting which in turn can lead to inflamation and infection. In extreme cases it is possible your pet could suffer from anemia due to constant blood loss.
Whilst it is difficult to distinguish the dog flea from from the cat flea, the dog flea can be distinguished by its head which is rounded rather than elongated.