Fleas may be tiny, but they are responsible for the most human deaths of all time. As carriers of the Black Death, they killed an estimated 70 to 200 million people between 1346 and 1352. Today, fleas aren’t quite so nefarious, but they are still a pest that you don’t want to have in your home and should be dealt with immediately.
Flea Appearance and Identification
Fleas are small, wingless insects measuring about 2.5 mm long. They have shiny bodies that are reddish brown in color, and they are covered in microscopic hair. Their bodies are compressed, allowing them to easily move through animal fur.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Adult fleas are parasites that feed on blood from a host. Larvae feed on the feces of adult fleas and other organic debris. Fleas most often only feed on hairy animals like dogs, cats, rabbits and other types of domesticated and wild animals. They do not have wings, but there are capable of jumping large distances.
Flea eggs hatch in rugs, carpet, bedding and cracks in the floor. They typically hatch within two days. A flea has four life cycle stages: egg, larval, pupal and adult. The length of the cycle varies from several weeks to several months depending upon environmental conditions.
Signs of a Flea Infestation
Fleas can enter your home on a mammal host. In their adult stage, they are relatively easy to see and identify. You may notice them jumping around and trying to land on you or your pet. Eggs are often hidden in places like behind or under furniture and in carpets, making them more difficult to detect.
Other signs of fleas include flea dirt, which looks like course ground pepper. You may also notice your pets scratching more than usual, or you may experience itchy bites.
How to Get Rid of Fleas
Getting rid of fleas requires getting rid of adults, eggs and larvae. Because immature fleas are difficult to locate, you may need to contact a pest control professional for assistance. Unfortunately, most over-the-counter products are not effective in eliminating flea infestations.
If you notice fleas in your home act quickly. When fleas are caught early treatment can be localized and is extremely effective.