Fleas are wingless blood-sucking insects that have been feeding on humans and other mammals for several million years. They are small, with adults typically measuring less than 1/8 inch in length. Their dark color and tiny size make them difficult to see, providing them opportunities to remain hidden for weeks or months.
Fleas can be hazardous to the health of both humans and pets. In addition to causing painful, itchy bites, fleas can transmit diseases. The fleas feeding on rats have been blamed for the transmission of bubonic plague, which devastated the human population on more than one occasion and which has never been totally eradicated. Fleas have been known to transmit typhus and other bacterial diseases, including the bacteria linked to cat-scratch fever. Contaminated fleas can also introduce tapeworm eggs into the bloodstreams of animals or humans when they bite a host. Fleas have also been found to serve as vectors for protozoa, which cause a variety of diseases, including Chagas disease and sleeping sickness.
The life cycle of a flea involves four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Females lay up to 20 eggs at a time, typically on the host. The eggs are not attached to the host’s body, so they can be dislodged easily when the host walks, lies down or makes even minimal movements. Eggs hatch in two to 14 days, depending on the environmental conditions, and larvae emerge. The larvae begin feeding on any type of organic material available, such as vegetable matter or dead insects. If they can find adequate food, the larvae will pupate, weaving cocoons much as caterpillars do when transforming into butterflies. Adults are ready to emerge from their cocoons in one to two weeks, but they have been known to survive over the winter if conditions are not conducive to survival.
Adult fleas that have just emerged from pupae need to find a meal of blood within the first week to survive. Female fleas must find a blood meal to lay eggs.
The four-stage lifecycle means that fleas can be difficult to control if they infest a home. Fleas in all of the different stages must be eliminated to prevent reinfestations. Control requires a combination of sanitary measures and an effective treatment of both pets and furnishings.
In all stages of the lifecycle, fleas thrive when the humidity level is around 70 percent and the temperature is between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that most homes offer ideal conditions for fleas to reproduce at optimal levels. A home’s interior also has virtually endless locations where they can remain hidden regardless of their lifecycle stage.
If you need flea control services or any other type of pest control, Hart Pest Control can help. We have been providing quality services to customers in Montgomery and Harris counties since 1969. We are a family-owned business dedicated to giving our customers precisely what they need to secure their properties against pests in the safest, most effective manner. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you eliminate pests in your home or business.