The key to flea control is quick action. If you see signs and ignore them, even for a few days, the situation could become a nightmare. Telltale signs of the presence of fleas go beyond actually seeing the buggers. Observe your pet. If he starts with the twitching and sudden jerks to lick, especially areas like the belly, groin area, under the neck and behind the tail along the backbone, it is time to pay attention.
If you see black specks laying on the areas where your pet spends its time sleeping, that is a good sign that your pet has fleas even if they don't appear to be bothering him. Those specks are "flea dirt" which is actually dried pre-digested blood.
If you see little, rice shaped worms on your pets back end or on their bedding, that means they have tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum). Fleas are notorious for transmitting tapeworms to your pets. When your pet itches, they lick and when they lick they ingest the flea, and once the flea is ingested the tapeworm can complete it's life cycle. Adult tapeworms can be several inches in length living in your pet's intestinal tract. What you see are the sections that break off.
It is important to understand the life cycle of the flea. There are four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The typical life cycle will take anywhere from a couple weeks to months. It depends on the temperature in their environment and humidity levels. Fleas like conditions between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and 70% humidity.
So let's start with the females that hitch a ride into your home. Those adult females lay eggs following a blood meal from the host animal. Without blood the flea is unable to reproduce and being that is their goal in life they can very quickly make your pet miserable. The eggs are slightly smaller than a grain of sand and white in color. They are laid in the fur in bunches of about 20. One adult female flea can lay about 40 eggs every day. As your pet moves around those eggs fall off which is how the problem can suddenly appear all over the house. Eggs represent 50% of the entire flea population in a home.
With optimal conditions the eggs can hatch in only two days. If the temperatures are cold and dry it'll take a bit longer, perhaps up to two weeks. If the temperatures are warm with high humidity, the eggs will hatch in a few days.
The larvae that emerge from those eggs need to avoid light, so will nestle in carpets, dark corners, clothing lying around and upholstery. What they live on is the flea dirt that is found amidst other organic debris in their environment. The larvae make up about 35% of the population. This is why it is ultra important to wash all bedding your pet uses and to have a good vacuum cleaner. Strongly recommended is a vacuum with a microfiber bag or the type of vacuum using water such as a Rainbow. With a bagless vacuum there is good chance that when you empty the canister into your trash, you will just release those fleas and eggs back into your home. Microfiber bags are made to trap allergens, dust and fleas debris with no escaping. Water canisters need to be emptied each time but the fleas are dead from drowning.
If left to their own devices, those larvae will spin cocoons in 5 to 20 days from the time of hatching from their eggs.
The cocoon or pupae stage is the last developmental stage before the adult emerges that we usually see. The purpose of the cocoon stage is to protect the pupae for as long as it takes for conditions to be ideal for the adults to emerge. This can take from just a few days to years. The cocoons have a sticky coating that allows them to attach to carpet fibers so having a powerful vacuum cleaner is paramount.
What triggers the adult flea to emerge once developed is a rise in nearby body heat, higher levels of carbon dioxide and vibrations. All these are associated with the nearby presence of a warm-blooded body nearby, be that a pet or a person. Once fleas emerge they need to eat within a few hours. After feeding they'll begin to breed, lay eggs and the cycle starts all over again. Adult fleas account for only about 5% of the entire population in the house, but while on your pet they'll continue to feed, breed and lay eggs.
Before dousing your home with toxic flea bombs and chemicals there are other safer weapons of destruction against them: Borax, Diatomaceous Earth and Vinegar and the all important Vacuum Cleaner!
Use borax, Not boric acid!
What you want is Disodium Tetraborate or Sodium Tetraborate which is Borax. Borax is mined from the earth as a complex form of boron bound with other minerals. Boric acid does not occur naturally in nature, but is made from borax by adding hydrochloric acid and water. This increases the toxicity level so it is not a good thing to have around your pets or children.
Borax looks like salt, has no smell and doesn't get absorbed by the skin when touched. It kills fleas by dehydrating them as it makes small cuts in their exoskeleton. This works on the larvae but won't help you get rid of the eggs. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum to get rid of the eggs.
Borax is also good for killing ants, bed bugs and roaches.
Borax is safe to have in your home and is much less toxic than insecticides.
If you are pregnant, avoid using any Borate substance which includes borax.
You don't want small children crawling around on the floor if there is borax still in the carpet.
Keep your cats away from the borax powder. Breathing in the fumes could cause health problems.
Don't put borax directly onto your pets. You don't want prolonged skin contact.
Keep borax away from your plants.
How to use:
Sprinkle borax liberally all around your carpeted areas.
Use a stiff brush or broom to work the borax down into the carpet fibers.
Wait at least six hours before vacuuming up the borax.
An alternative to borax is Diatomaceous Earth.
|Natural Dog and Cat Safe Flea Powder|
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