Flea infestations – what to look for:
There are several species of flea common to most animals found in the UK. The most common infestations are caused by fleas found on household pets such as cats, dogs and rabbits, however fleas can also cross to humans from other sources such as mice, rats, squirrels, foxes and birds. Fleas are very small parasitic insects with a dark brown or reddish colour. They do not have wings but have well-developed hind legs which they use to move easily through hair and feathers and to jump from host to host. Fleas are able to jump very long distances comparative to their body size and their bodies are designed to be hard to remove by scratching or biting from the host. They feed on the blood of their host and an infestation can be difficult to remove once established.
The flea has four life stages; egg, larvae, pupae and adult. The eggs are usually a smooth oval and white in colour and will be laid in batches on the host’s body, however the majority of these eggs will fall off onto carpets or blankets before hatching within 14 days. The larvae will feed on any available organic matter before becoming a pupae and entering a cocoon. The pupae can remain cocooned for up to a year before hatching as an adult flea, causing the difficulty in fully eradicating a flea infestation.
Due to their very small size, fleas are quite difficult to spot with the naked eye and therefore your first indication of an infestation is noticing your pets scratching more, or that you have been bitten yourself. Of course this means that the fleas have already reached the adult stage and are therefore likely to be already breeding and scattering eggs around your premises.
Household pets are the single most common source of infestations and it is unfortunately difficult to ensure that your pet remains flea free throughout its life. Sadly, the chances are that you will experience at least one flea infestation during your pet’s lifetime. Please remember though that due to the ease with which fleas can move from host to host and the large number of eggs scattered, it is still possible for a house without pets to become infested.
Fleas are generally believed to now carry a low risk of disease transfer to humans, however their bite can cause an allergic reaction that can develop further into eczema. On humans, the most likely places to be bitten are on the legs and ankles, and bites are usually felt immediately. They will cause an itching sensation and a dark swollen spot. Bites will usually be found in clusters or rows.
Control and treatment:
It is important to treat your pet at the same time as treating your property to prevent a cycle of infestation and we would recommend contacting a vet or veterinary practice to get professional advice and treatments for your pets.
Our technicians will carry out an assessment of the infestation in your property and will usually employ a HSE approved insecticide spray in the affected areas to ensure that all fleas, no matter what stage of the life cycle they are at, are killed. Our sprays are safe to use in residential properties and you can return to the treated area within a few hours, however we would recommend keeping household pets away for at least 24 hours.
We would also recommend taking the following steps to ensure that the risk of re-infestation is minimal:
- Regularly treat any pets with a veterinary recommended flea treatment.
- Regularly shampoo or spray your carpets and furniture with a suitable cleaning product or disinfectant.
- Remove, hot wash or dry clean all curtains, bedding and other loose coverings.
- Hot wash or dry clean any clothing that has come into contact with the infestation.
- Carefully check, clean & clear the rooms of any other personal or valuable belongings before storing them away.
- Vacuum and clean all affected areas, then throw the waste away in an external bin.
- Ensure the edges of the rooms and any storage areas to be treated are accessible.
Our technician’s treatment should take about 60 minutes to apply, including the initial assessment and customer briefing, and the infestation should be killed off entirely within 14 days. If needed, our technician will be more than happy to arrange a follow-up visit following the initial 14 days for any further action necessary.
Please note that flea infestations in multi-residency or high occupancy or traffic premises may require several visits to entirely eradicate any activity.
Manchester Pest Control – covering Manchester, Stockport and Cheshire – call 0161 434 9939