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No one wants fleas in the home

April 2019

fleas
Fleas can hop quickly from any animal

Fleas...urgh...the mere word conjures up images of dirty places and unwashed humans. In the past fleas were a far more accepted part of life; for instance, in the eighteenth century they were a common problem for all classes and were often found not only on pets and animals but in beds, on people and even in the elaborate hairstyles that were fashionable at the time.

Today, though, with more knowledge and better treatments, fleas on humans and the resulting itchy bites are thankfully quite rare. But they are not extinct, and fleas on dogs and cats are still very much a problem, as many pet lovers will know!

Now spring and warmer weather is here, fleas can start replicating out of doors as well and they are very opportune little creatures. If an animal passes by, a pet dog or cat or wildlife such as a fox or hedgehog, the fleas will hop onto the animal to establish a new home where they can ensure warmth and their regular feeds of fresh blood.

When a female hops onto a host, it can mate with several males in the first 24 hours and will soon lay viable eggs – an adult female flea can produce as many as 50 eggs a day. These will then roll off the host and drop into the surrounding environment which may be outside, or could be in your home! This could happen from a visiting pet, so you don’t necessarily have to own a dog to suddenly experience fleas! In good conditions, the flea eggs will hatch just a few days later and it is the speed of this cycle which causes so much concern as it can result in sudden flea infestations.

Once these new fleas have emerged, they will need to feed quickly so will be determined to hop onto the first animal available, and the breeding cycle continues.

There are actually around 2,000 different types of fleas in the world, but the most common are cat fleas, dog fleas, human fleas and Oriental rat fleas. If the flea cannot get blood from its preferred species, then they may well hop onto other animals and even humans for a good feed.

It is worth bearing in mind that fleas may jump across from many species including pigs. So if you are visiting animal farms with the grandchildren, it makes sense to be aware of possible fleas.

But for most people the main problem is with cats and dogs. These favourite household pets can suffer badly from flea bites but luckily can be treated today with a number of special preparations that will stop any flea eggs from hatching. There are special flea combs to remove fleas from pets as well.

If you feel there may be fleas around, then all bedding should be washed at a temperature of at least 60°C. This can include your bedding as well as the bedding of your pet, especially if it sleeps on your bed at night. Good vacuuming around your home and especially around areas where pets like to sit is important plus also give a vacuum in nearby darkened areas where flea larvae may be hovering. 

There is of course lots of information on line available about fleas and how to deal with problems; and there are some interesting personal stories about fleas on:

andreazuvich.com/the-flea-ones-constant-companion/

georgianera.wordpress.com/18th-century-flea-traps/


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