The life cycle of a tick
Fleas thrive in warm, moist environments and climates. The main flea food is blood from the host animal. Host animals are many species – cats, dogs, humans, etc. Fleas primarily utilize mammalian hosts (about 95%). Fleas can also infest avian species (about 5%). Flea saliva, like other biting skin parasites, contains an ingredient that softens, or “digests” the host’s skin for easier penetration and feeding. The saliva of fleas is irritating and allergenic — the cause of all the itching, scratching, and other signs seen with Flea Allergy Dermatitis, or FAD.
Fleas have four main stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The total flea life cycle can range from a couple weeks to several months, depending on environmental conditions.
Adult fleas prefer to live on the animal and their diet consists of blood meals courtesy of the host animal. The female flea lays white, roundish eggs. The adult female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day1, 500-600 eggs2 over several months. The eggs are not sticky (like some parasites), and they usually fall off of the animal into the carpet, bedding, floorboards, and soil. When the flea egg hatches varies — anywhere from two days to a few weeks, depending on environmental conditions. The larva emerges from the egg using a chitin tooth, a hard spine on the top of the head that disappears as the flea matures. Larvae eat the feces of adult fleas (which is mostly dried blood) and other organic debris found in the carpet, bedding, and soil. Depending on the amount of food present and the environmental conditions, the larval stage lasts about 5 to 18 days (longer in some cases) then the larva spins a silken cocoon and pupates. The pupa is the last stage before adult. The adult flea can emerge from the cocoon as early as 3 to 5 days, or it can stay in the cocoon for a year or more, waiting for the right time to emerge. When is the right time? (Never, say pet lovers everywhere!) Stimuli such as warm ambient temperatures, high humidity, even the vibrations and carbon dioxide emitted from a passing animal will cause the flea to emerge from the cocoon faster. This brings us back to the adult flea.
The entire life cycle is quite variable, as evidenced by the variability in each life stage progression. As mentioned above, the cycle can be as short as two weeks or as long as two years. That is why it is so important to remain vigilant, even when a flea problem is thought to be under control!
There are 2 effective methods for flea prevention:
- TREAT ENVIRONMENT
- TREAT ALL PETS WITH AN EFFECTIVE PRODUCT
Treating your environment:
The flea infestation is in your carpet not your dog. In ridding a home of these biting little invaders, the carpet is always the ultimate battlefield. It’s fibrous and moist which gives fleas the sensation that they are ensconced in their natural happy home of animal fur. It’s the all-around perfect place for breeding fleas, too. Vacuum, vacuum, and vacuum again! Each pass of the vacuum picks up 50% of the eggs, 20% of the larva, & 0% of the pupae. Since larva are smaller than a thin piece of thread vacuum over the cracks in the hardwood and edges of the floors along walls. Vacuum under & between the couch cushions including the bottom surface of the cushions where the pupae grab on. Vacuum rugs, cat post, top of the couch ledge where cats like to sit, pet bed if not able to wash, and the car. Throw out the vacuum bag or wash canister with detergent. Hint: Steam cleaning kills all life stages of the flea. Vacuuming does not. If you have a hard surfaces floor (linoleum/tile/hardwood/etc.) try using detergent. It will kill all life stages of the flea.
- WASH pet beds, pet fabric toys, blankets on beds regularly.
- TREAT YOUR HOUSE AND CAR WITH ANTI FLEA PRODUCTS: Treat your home with aerosol spray using Zodiac area spray from pet stores or Knockout from vet hospitals. Spray carpets, couches, cat posts, pet beds and car. Repeat every 10-14 days and thereafter, at least every 3-8 weeks.
- Use powders from pet stores that are scrubbed into the carpet. For example, Flea Busters guarantees no fleas for 1 year. Not safe for use in homes where people or pets have asthma.
- DO NOT BOMB. Bombs will not go under any furniture. They will not go around corners. If you choose to do this, all pets have to leave the house.
- TREAT OUTSIDE WHEN OVER 60 F: Focus on the shady areas such as under decks, under bushes or trees. Fleas don’t like where the sun burns directly such as the center of the grass. Many products exist that hook to a hose & are sprayed.
WE WILL HELP YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT FLEA & TICK
PREVENTATIVES FOR YOUR PET
Dog Preventions: Bravecto, Advantage Multi, Activyl Tick Plus
Cat Preventions: Activyl, Feline Revolution
For more helpful tips on Parasite Prevention check out these sites: