Ah, fleas. Normally it’s veterinarians who usually encourage year-round flea prevention, but we actually encourage it too. It’s because fleas can last even through winter in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver areas!
Whether it’s for protecting your pets or for your house’s sake, fleas are a no-go and they’re one of many pests that this local Pest Boss gets calls about for extermination and treatment. As the saying goes (especially when it comes to pests), “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Let’s do likewise for our flea ‘friends’ by learning more about them and how we can keep them off of us and Fido.
The Life and Times of Sir/Madam Fleas-a-lot
Fleas are tenacious little varmints! They are born and live in four stages: the egg, the larva, the pupa, and the adult. Depending on how warm or habitable the environment is, a flea’s natural life cycle will usually take a couple of weeks to several months. Sir or Madam Fleas-a-lot’s favourite temperature is typically between 21-29 degrees Celsius, and their preferred humidity is at 70%. This means bad news for us in the Vancouver area and on the Lower Mainland; even when it’s freezing outside, our climate is mild enough that a flea can survive even the winter months.
What Sir or Madam Fleas-a-lot lacks in terms of wings (he or she is wingless), they make up for that lack with their tremendous jumping skills. They can jump vertically up to 7 inches (18 centimetres) in the air vertically and about 13 inches (33 centimetres) horizontally. Seeing a flea in action is the brightest red flag of an infestation! There’s a reason there was such a thing as a flea circus back in the early 19th century (more entertaining and less flea-ridden hobbies such as video games hadn’t been invented yet).
Your pets are not the only ones at risk of getting bitten by fleas; so are you! Next to bed bugs, the world’s most infamous vampire, fleas are the bed bug’s cousin as far as their main food source is concerned. Yep, your blood and your pets’ blood are exactly what they’re after. The main difference between bed bugs and fleas is that our blood contains just the right amount of carbon dioxide for bed bugs so they won’t normally head towards our pets unless we’re not around. Adult fleas will choose anyone, anywhere, for a host so long as they’re warm-blooded.
Signs that Sir/Madam Fleas-a-lot Has Moved in Uninvited
- Your dog or cat is itching and scratching themselves more than usual
- You see a flea jump off of your pet, literally
- You notice unusual bites and a number of them clustered together on your arms, legs, or anywhere else on your body, or on your pets
- You haven’t cleaned since Fido or Fluffy came back from outside
- Fido or Fluffy have neighbour pets who are being affected by fleas and passed them along
- You notice dark flecks on your pets’ fur coats that weren’t there before—that’s technically flea poop
- You spend a lot of time outside or bring home a lot of potted plants, and then noticed an increase of fleas
How to Get Rid of Fleas
First of all, if there are definitely fleas present, use medication for your pets if you own any straightaway. For prevention’s sake, there are over-the-counter solutions you can try from your local pet store as well as from your family vet. You may also want to consider investing in medicated shampoo for bathing your pets in (especially if they’re already the host for Sir or Madam Fleas-a-lot!).
Next, say hello to my little friend: the vacuum cleaner! Yep, vacuuming not only prevents one pesky flea, but almost all of them. It will help get rid of the eggs and larvae especially. Make doubly sure you check behind and under the couch, in darker corners, under and around baseboards, and behind and under the bed. Fleas love the night (again, they are one of nature’s vampires), so checking any dark crevices while cleaning will benefit to the prevention step.
For safety precautions if you’re vacuuming mid-infestation, dump the bag you used after vacuuming into a garbage bag before tossing it out, and use gloves to prevent the next stage of flea puberty to develop! Afterwards, it’s best to steam clean your carpets about twice a month for prevention’s sake, as this will help keep fleas away (it’ll also keep other pests such as carpet beetles out of the picture).
There will be no shortage of laundry if you need to prevent an infestation (whoopee). That not only counts for your bedding, but also your pet’s bedding. If they have a favourite toy that can be washed, wash that too. If not, you’ll unfortunately have to throw it out (but only if there’s a real infestation going on).
If the flea infestation is too much for you to handle, or you’re incapable of cleaning for any reason at all, the best course of action would be to call your local Pest Boss. We’ll get those varmints!
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