Fleas thrive when the weather is warm and humid. Depending on your climate, fleas may be a seasonal or year-round problem. |
Warm climate and heavy humidity are a paradise for this parasite. Ideal conditions for flea survival are between 55-89 degrees Fahrenheit and 50-92% humidity. All stages can survive temperature extremes of 25-100 degrees Fahrenheit. Their reproductive rate is rapid and by the time the parasite is noted, the flea population is much larger than realized.Adult fleas begin feeding within minutes of being on the pet and egg production begins 24-48 hours later. Once adult fleas are on the pet they do not leave the pet, but their eggs dry and fall off, like salt from a salt shaker, within hours after being deposited on the pet's skin & hair. This is how the environmental/ premise problem starts. Every adult flea seen results in hundreds of flea eggs in the environment. The flea eggs hatch in the environment and the larvae hide in protected areas such as carpeting, bedding, furniture, leaves, grass and soil. The larval stage then develops into a pupae stage, which can remain in the environment for several months, until conditions are right or a new host is available (usually the same pet). Pupae can remain viable in the environment, even when the other stages are unable to survive. New fleas emerge from the pupae stage and continue the parasite's life cycle.Environmental infestation is a crucial component of the flea's survival strategy. Effective flea control must be aimed at all stages of the flea life cycle: on the pet and in the environment. This involves using products that kill the adult flea and prevent their eggs from hatching (IGR or Insect Growth Regulators). The pupae stage cannot be killed and remains viable regardless.
Your pet can pick up fleas wherever an infestation exists, often in areas frequented by other cats and dogs. Adult fleas are dark brown, no bigger than a sesame seed, and able to move rapidly over your pet's skin.
Adult fleas live their entire lives on your pet. Female fleas begin laying eggs within 24 hours of selecting your pet as a host, producing up to 50 eggs each day. These eggs fall from your pet onto the floor or furniture, including your pet's bed, or onto any other indoor or outdoor area where your pet happens to be. Tiny worm-like larvae hatch from the eggs and, to avoid sunlight, burrow into carpets, under furniture, or into soil before spinning a cocoon. The cocooned flea pupae can lie dormant for weeks before emerging as adults, ready to infest your pet. This gives fleas a life cycle of anywhere from 12 days to 6 months. Knowing where fleas develop helps you to efficiently break their life cycle.
Risks and Consequences You might not even know that your pet has fleas until their number increases to the point that your pet is visibly uncomfortable. Signs of flea problems range from mild irritation to severe itching that can lead to open sores and skin infection. One of the first things you might notice on a pet with fleas is "flea dirt", the black flea droppings left on your pet's coat.
Some pets develop an allergy to flea saliva and this condition requires management. Also, pets can become infected with tapeworms if they ingest fleas carrying tapeworm eggs. Young or small pets with heavy flea infestations may become anemic, and in areas with moderate to severe flea infestations, people may experience flea bites. Fleas are capable of transmitting a few other infectious diseases to pets and people, but this is rare.
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