same-day serviceFleas

 

CAT FLEA
Ctenocephalides felis (Bouche)

DOG FLEA
Ctenocephalides canis (Curtis )

Fleas are very important pests in Ohio, especially during the months of July through October, but sometimes persist all year when indoors. It is estimated that pet owners alone spend over $1 billion each year controlling fleas. The cat flea is the most common flea in Ohio which feeds on a wide range of hosts.

flea bitesAdult fleas are not only a nuisance to humans and their pets, but can cause medical problems including flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), tapeworms (see diagram below), secondary skin irritations and, in extreme cases, anemia.

Although bites are rarely felt, it is the resulting irritation caused by the flea salivary secretions that varies among individuals. Some may witness a severe reaction (general rash or inflammation) resulting in secondary infections caused by scratching the irritated skin area. Others may show no reaction or irritation acquired after repeated bites over several weeks or months. Most bites usually found on the ankles and legs may cause pain lasting a few minutes, hours or days depending on one's sensitivity. The typical reaction to the bite is the formation of a small, hard, red, slightly-raised (swollen) itching spot. There is a single puncture point in the center of each spot. (Ants and spiders leave two marks when they bite. Mosquitoes, bees, wasps and bedbugs cause a large swelling or welt).

Fleas may transmit bubonic plague from rodent to rodent and from rodent to humans. Oriental rat fleas can transmit murine typhus (endemic typhus) fever among rats and from rats to humans. Tapeworms normally infest dogs and cats but may appear in children if parts of infested fleas are accidentally consumed (see diagram below).

fleaAdult fleas are about 1/16 to 1/8-inch long, dark reddish-brown, and wingless. Fleas are excellent jumpers, leaping vertically up to seven inches and horizontally thirteen inches. (An equivalent hop for a human would be 250 feet vertically and 450 feet horizontally.) They have piercing-sucking mouthparts and spines on the body projecting backward. Also, there is a row of spines on the face known as a genal comb.

Fleas pass through a complete life cycle consisting of egg, larva, pupa and adult. A typical flea population consists of 50 percent eggs, 35 percent larvae, 10 percent pupae and 5 percent adults. Completion of the life cycle from egg to adult varies from two weeks to eight months depending on the temperature, humidity, food, and species. Optimum temperatures for the flea's life cycle are 70°F to 85°F and optimum humidity is 70 percent. Most fleas overwinter in the larval or pupal stage with survival and growth best during warm, moist winters and spring.

Normally after a blood meal, the female flea lays about 15 to 20 eggs per day up to 600 in a lifetime usually on the host (dogs, cats, rats, rabbits, mice, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, opossums, foxes, chickens, humans, etc.). Eggs loosely laid in the hair coat, drop out most anywhere especially where the host rests, sleeps or nests (rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture, cat or dog boxes, kennels, sand boxes, etc.). Eggs hatch in two days to two weeks into larvae found indoors in floor cracks & crevices, along baseboards, under rug edges and in furniture or beds. Research indicates larvae spend 83 percent of the time deep in the carpet at the base of fibers frequently becoming entwined within the carpet. At pupation, the larva move up the carpet fiber spinning a camouflaging cocoon around itself.

Outdoor development occurs in sandy gravel soils (moist sand boxes, dirt crawlspace under the house, under shrubs, etc.) where the pet may rest or sleep. Sand and gravel are very suitable for larval development which is the reason fleas are erroneously called "sand fleas."

Flea control is best achieved with a simultaneous, coordinated effort involving strict sanitation, pet treatment and premise treatment (both indoors & outdoors).

Tapeworm Transmitted via Fleas:


tapeworm via flea

 

This page is intended as a quick reference. Pest experts should be contacted for case-by-case evaluation if you believe that you have a pest problem that requires professional assistance.

Some information found in this overview has been compiled from household pest information sheets published by the Ohio State University Extension Office: HYG-2099-97, and by the Penn State University Extension Office. This information is included on this web site strictly to help in the identification of various pests, and no profit is directly derived there from.

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