Flea problems in your home or business
At PEST UK we often get Estate Agents and Landlords phoning us with flea problems in empty houses. Fleas in property that is unoccupied can present a problem.
The problem is this: In ‘normal circumstances’ a flea treatment will take 2-3 weeks before the fleas die out, although this time frame is dependant on the house being occupied with plenty of movement within the house, the house being kept warm and well ventilated (this is to reduce humidity which makes the fleas and the larvae more susceptible to insecticide) as well as being occupied by people or pets.
As with a lot of blood feeding insects, fleas have the ability to lay dormant for a long time. This is because they may have to wait a long time for their host animal to arrive but as soon as the host animal arrives they must be ready. The lifecycle of a flea in brief is an egg, a maggot like larvae, then it pupates before emerging as an adult. While in the pupa stage the larvae turns into the adult but waits for the stimulus of one or a combination of warmth, movement and carbon dioxide before coming out of the pupa was. It is this adult flea in the pupa case that causes problems in unoccupied properties. This flea is waterproof and is unaffected by water based insecticides.
So a house had pets. The owners weren’t bothered by fleas, as in a low level infestation fleas won’t bother people as long as they have a supply of food from their host (usually a cat but sometimes a dog). The people and pet move and the fleas in the pupa stage wait. An estate agent or landlord arrives with prospective tenants and fleas emerge and start jumping on the visitors looking for a meal. Even if the house is then sprayed there will still be problems because the fleas that have come out of the pupa cases will die (in time) once they have crawled over the treated surfaces but there still will be a high percentage that have not emerged. This is a factor that a lot of insects in larval stages have, staggered emergence. This protects the species and makes survival of some more likely.
There is an oil based insecticide called Permost Uni that will penetrate the flea pupa case. Unfortunately, because it is oil based it will damage carpets and may even require more than one spray. It is also much more expensive.
If you want advice or a treatment from PEST UK on fleas or any pest control related matter then please call us on 0330 100 2811 or 0800 026 0308
Prices for flea treatments. Cost for a guaranteed flea treatment for up to a 3 bedroom domestic house is £65.00 + VAT. The cost for a single spray using ‘Permost Uni’ for up to a 3 bedroom House is £100.00 + VAT (Permost Uni works very quickly but is oil based and may damage carpets).
At PEST UK our peak time for enquiries from customers about pest control problems from dog or cat fleas is always in the late Summer and Autumn. The reason for this is because fleas are most active in warm weather so need to feed more often, this warm weather is when people go on holiday so their pest either go with them, go into kennels or catteries (in some cases are looked after in the home) so the food source is removed or in some cases restricted. The other issue is the behaviour of cats. Fleas mainly live in carpets, go onto the host (usually a cat or dog) to feed then back to the carpet, problem for the fleas is that in warm weather cats are more likely to be outside and may even avoid areas that are heavily infested with fleas. In the case of some one coming in to feed a cat left at home the cat will spend more time out of an empty house than an occupied one. We have had dozens of calls from house sitters who come in to feed the cat and get badly bitten in the process. Well over 90% of flea problems on animals are actually cat fleas, even on other animals such as dogs and rabbits are cat fleas.
Treatment of all types of fleas experienced in UK homes is virtually the same. Preparation as with most pest control treatments is vital if the insecticide treatment is to work. This involves vacuuming all floor areas (including under all standing furniture), once done emptying the vacuum cleaner to an outside bin and just clearing the floor areas of all clutter. There are no fumes to the modern insecticides we use so vacating the house is not needed but pets should be kept out of the house until the floor surfaces are dry and people should not touch the treated surfaces with bare skin until dry.
PEST UK offer guaranteed flea treatments for a reasonable rate.
Insects that bite people in the UK fall into only 3 groups. Apart apart from airborne insects such as Horse Flies and Mosquitoes, these are fleas, bed bugs or poultry mites. These are all blood feeders. They will pierce the skin and feed on blood. What causes the irritation or bite is the solution that the insect/ mite injects into the hole to prevent the blood clotting. Different people react differently to bites. It is not possible to look at a bite and identify which insect or mite caused the bite as everyone will react in a slightly different way. At PEST UK we deal with many incidences of people phoning up complaining of bites but with no evidence or marks on the skin. The skin is a sensitive organ and insect bites will be plain to see as rashes, irritation, and allergic reactions can be hard to see.
At PEST UK we can normally identify which type of insect is causing the bites by asking a few questions. See below:
Have you any pets? (Cats in particular). If the answer is yes, then:
Are the insect bites on the lower legs? (adults). If the answer to these questions is yes then the culprit is almost certainly animal fleas but the other questions need addressing .
Are the insect bites all over the body? If yes then probably bed bugs.
Are you getting bitten at night? If yes again then almost certainly bed bugs.
Have you seen any small dark specks of partly digested blood on sheets, walls or ceilings? This type of evidence is not always evident but is often seen in severe infestations.
Have you any birds nesting in the loft? If yes then possibly poultry mites (if yes then possibly bird mites)
Can you see small reddish creatures on walls and ceilings? If yes to 5 & 6 then bird mites.
If any specimens are found then it is vital they are kept or a good photo taken but be warned just because an insect is found it does not mean that this is the one causing the bites.
Fleas in a Derelict House:
A Housing Association called us out to deal with a flea problem in Swindon. As you can see from the pictures this house was truly derelict. The problem was that fleas were biting the people sent in to clear the house.
There are many problems dealing with fleas and other insects in these situations. The first is that insecticides only work properly on clean surfaces, so not a good start. The other major problem is that to eliminate a flea infestation takes time, typically 2 – 3 weeks occupation in a heated environment.
This house was cold, it was unoccupied and it is filthy. We always ask our customers with fleas to vacuum thoroughly before treatment and to keep the floor areas clear. Afterwards we ask that the place is kept warm and occupied, reduce humidity by leaving windows slightly open and if the customer has a cat or dog then to keep them in and give them the freedom of the house (providing that they have been treated with Program, Frontline or a similar product) the reason for this is that as the flea infestation takes tome to die out, fleas will still be present, so it is more desirable that the fleas bite the pet rather than people (if there is a choice they will prefer to feed on a cat or dog in preference to humans).
There is also the problem of the Flea Pupa hatching. Flea eggs hatch into grubs that feed on flea faeces and other organic debris. Then they pupate but have the ability to wait, fully protected in the pupa case until the conditions are right, i.e. there is food in the way of an animal or human and the environment is warm enough for them to operate.
Treating a derelict house for fleas will probably fail for the reasons given. However the treatment will still kill a high percentage of the flea infestation and provide protection from most of the fleas for the workers doing thew house clearance.
For advice or a pest control treatment please phone PEST UK on 0330 100 2811. Alec Minter
Cat & Dog Fleas:
The Summer Holidays are a time when at PEST UK we start to get an increase in flea call outs. It is towards the end of the Summer holidays when the calls peak. There are several reasons for this.
The first is that the flea population starts to increase as the weather warms and fleas are now active in outside areas as well as in houses. Cats (and dogs) are creatures of habit and will lie up in certain areas. Fleas may be present in these areas and go onto the animal to feed. The fleas then may hitch a ride and find themselves living in a carpet.
Another reason is that when the weather is warmer, the fleas will be more active but this may coincide with the cat spending more time outside, this leads to the fleas being hungry and as the cat is not in the house they resort to feeding on people. They will also be more active, moving around looking for the cat. These two actions make a flea infestation get noticed. If a flea population in a house builds up this may lead to the cat staying away from the house as it is uncomfortable with the attention it is getting from the fleas. This will mean that the fleas in the house turn their attention to people in the house.
The main reason for call outs for fleas is holidays. The family go on holiday, the cat or dog goes into the cattery or kennels and the house is empty. The weather is warm and the fleas are active and hungry but there is no food, no cat or dog nor people. As soon as the family return the fleas go on a feeding frenzy and we start getting calls. In these circumstances the best course of action is to vacuum all floor areas (including under standing furniture) treat the animal, get the house treated by a professional pest control company then after treatment keep the cat INSIDE for as long as possible. The flea infestation will take several weeks to die off after a spray so you want the fleas to feed on the cat or dog and not people.
To book a pest control treatment or free advice then please call us at PEST UK: 0330 100 2811 (local rate) or 0800 026 0308 (free from land lines & some mobiles).
A Pest Control Contract is not expensive. Not only will it protect the health and safety of your employees, it will also protect your reputation. Most prosecutions happen to smaller companies. Remove the worry and leave pest control in the hands of experts.
If you are regularly experiencing pest problems, maybe a Pest Control Contract is better. That peace-of-mind knowing that there is an expert team just a phone call away!
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