Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How to deal with fleas which won't die

My father was an absolutely interesting man, and whilst not perfect, there was one thing which was truly special about him - and that was his love of animals, and even more special, on how they seem to gravitate towards him.

After he died, we eventually rented out our family home, to a family with pets.


Asleep - on the bed - and I wonder what else they are sharing..
fleas, maybe?

And recently, they moved out, but their pet's fleas did not.  

So, I have now had to deal with an all too common scenario faced by many loving pet owners - how to deal with fleas which won't die... or as the true situation is - how to eliminate the flea plague living in your house.

It has been over  month since the tenants have moved out, and during that time, the house has had three seperate environmental flea treatments.

The first one was a professional pest control treatment (and I was warned a second one would be necessary).  

We still were getting emergent fleas (the little ones).  The professional flea treatment did work, as we
Ugly Fleas !
had no adult fleas, but  like any other human being, I got impatient, and bought the flea bombs from the supermarket about a week later.  It promises to sterilise the flea eggs, and stops them from hatching for up to 9 months.

I visited the house almost daily, and found no fleas - and thought! wow!  that has worked.  And then, I couldn't visit for a week and a half.

I was there one afternoon, and after 2 hours, had to leave. Those little blighters were at it again!

So I set off another set of flea bombs,  as a knee jerk reaction.  But I had to ponder why did I, or why should I, need to repeat the treatment?

The answer is because of the flea life cycle - they hatch in "waves", and they must go through the egg to larvae to pupa stage - and whilst the flea treatments work on the adults, and the flea bombs on the eggs, they do not do much for the larval or pupae stages!

Patience is a virtue, but being attacked by these fleas is really challenging mine.  On many levels. As  one who loves animals, as a veterinarian, and, now, as a landlord.

As an aside,   I often get the comment from clients about "grass fleas" - I now have a new "brand" of fleas - I have  have "carpet fleas", "tile fleas", "timber floor fleas" and "laminate fleas", as what is jumping me on me when I am in my old house are definitely fleas, but seem to come out of nowhere. The fact is that these are all the same type of flea, which is the "cat flea".

The real flea problem in any environment are the eggs that a pregnant adult  flea lays, which she does on the pet, which fall into the environment...wherever the pet may be.

So, this is all about how to deal with fleas which won't die.  This is what I did to clear up my flea problem (which is still ongoing, but at least I can work for several hours in the house without being molested)

  • Patience - essential - the flea eggs can live in the environment for up to a year. To expect to be flea free after a single treatment is not a realistic expectation.
  • 95% of the flea problem is in the environment, with 35 % in the pupae (not able to be killed readily) stage.
  • Vaccumming regularly is essential - this stimulates eggs to hatch and continue on the life cycle - the adult fleas are then killed by any flea bombs or treatments, or sucked up into the vacuum cleaner bag - to die a slow death via flea collar). How regularly?  I would recommend each 2-3 days, and emptying the vaccum cleaner bag each time.
  • Quality flea control on your pets - we would suggest using Frontera flea spray (Ilium) - even though as a spray it is an initial nuisance, it will provide the best flea protection your pet can get.  (Of course, if your flea problem is not as bad as mine, then you can use the spot -on type treatments). In my situation, there are no pets in the house, so the fleas are choosing me (as the closest living creature) by  default.