The Flea Life Cycle: Know Your Enemy
Fleas can make your dog itch and cause considerable discomfort. Because fleas are so tiny, you might not even see them. But an unseen flea can begin feeding on your dog within seconds. And within 24 hours of its first blood meal, a flea can begin laying eggs. Egg production can reach a rate of 40–50 per day, rapidly resulting in a heavy infestation. That’s why it’s critical to kill fleas quickly.
To protect your pet and home from fleas, it helps to understand the flea life cycle.
The egg stage
Adult fleas can begin feeding within seconds of finding a host. They must feed to begin reproduction, and female fleas will begin producing eggs within 24 to 48 hours of taking their first blood meal.
Female fleas can produce 40 to 50 eggs per day, up to 2,000 in their lifetime. Flea eggs readily fall off the hair into the environment. Wherever the pet spends the most time is usually where the heaviest flea infestations are found.
The larval stage
Larvae hatch from eggs in one to six days given appropriate environmental conditions Their principal food is adult flea faeces (“flea dirt”).
Flea larvae are small, thin and white, measuring 1 to 2 millimetres in length. Indoors, flea larvae tend to live deep in carpeting or under furniture. Outside, they develop best in shaded areas or under leaves or similar debris. Any area of the garden where a pet seeks shelter from the heat or cold is potentially a great environment for fleas.
The pupal stage
A mature larva transforms into a pupa inside a silk cocoon. Under most household conditions, the adult flea will emerge in three to five weeks. However, a fully developed flea can remain inside the cocoon for up to 350 days, a reproductive strategy that enhances the flea’s chance of survival. This helps to explain how a flea infestation can seemingly “explode” out of nowhere, even inside your home.
The adult stage
Adults emerging from cocoons can begin feeding immediately if a host is present and locate hosts by both visual and thermal cues.
The flea feeds through a tiny, slender mouth part called the proboscis.
Before feeding, it pumps saliva, which contains an anticoagulant, onto the skin. This prevents the blood from clotting, and the protein it contains can cause a severe allergic reaction in the host (causing flea allergy dermatitis).
Adult fleas can survive throughout the winter on pets as well as on wildlife.
If Large infestation occurs:
If you find you have fleas, fleas and more fleas there are a few things that you can do to control the population.
- Ensure ALL pets in the household are treated with monthly flea control
- Wash all bedding/ clothes used by pets in a hot wash, 90 degrees Celsius if possible.
- Vacuum floors especially behind doors, under furniture; the vibrations help to wake up eggs that are hiding in cracks and crevices, this is especially helpful if you are going to use flea bombs inside.
- Outdoors can be treated but it is best to speak to a pest control company to find the solution best for you.
- Continue to use monthly flea control year round. This prevents eggs from collecting in the soil and in cracks and crevices inside that can then hatch later on.
Several Products are available that treat FLEAS ONLY these are:
Advantage – A monthly Top spot applied topically to the back of the neck, kills adults, larvae and lice
Comfortis – A monthly tablet given orally,
Capstar – A tablet given when adult fleas are seen, this product kills adults that are present ONLY and lasts 24 hours only. This product works well when used in conjunction with a monthly product where a large infestation is present.
Call us at Bundaberg South Vet Clinic to discuss with our friendly staff what products is most suitable to your dog today!