Get Rid Of Flea Problems | Flea Removal Specialists
How Do I Know I Have A Problem?
When a house has a flea problem it is usually the case that people will experience bites. These are concentrated on the lower leg areas. Bites can occur on other parts of the body and on children are often more evenly distributed as they are nearer the ground and more likely to be playing or lying on the carpet areas. Different people react in different ways to bites. Some experience itching, swelling, some do not. Some people will react immediately to bites others may take several hours.
You may see fleas on the carpet or on your pet. The Flea infestation may have been caused by your own animals (if you have any), by a visiting animal, by previous occupants’ animals, or occasionally brought in by humans on their clothes. The Fleas live in the carpets and leave the carpets only to feed on the host animal, (usually cat or dog); if the host animal is not available then they will feed on humans, often preferring women and children to men. They will move on to beds and clothing but soon return to the carpet.
Why Should They Be Treated?
The reasons for treatment are obvious: they cause discomfort to humans and pets. They can transmit tapeworm. Visitors will be bitten and may take fleas back to their homes.
Flea treatments will not work unless proper preparation is carried out. Hygiene is paramount, the floor area of the house should be vacuumed and the whole floor area is sprayed with a residual insecticide, particular attention should be paid to the edges of carpets at the floor/wall joint, underneath static furniture, under beds and the resting and sleeping areas of any pets. Upholstered furniture should be vacuumed and similarly treated (although not essential as fleas will eventually move onto the treated carpet surface) taking care to treat the space under the cushions of chairs and settees where debris has collected. If available, the bedding of the cat or dog should be replaced, washed or failing these very thoroughly sprayed. Baskets must also be treated thoroughly. The vacuum bag must be removed after this and placed in an outside bin. The pet should be treated with a formulation to treat fleas on an animal such as a flea collar, powder, spray or formulation such as Frontline. This must be ongoing. NEVER TREAT AN ANIMAL OR HUMAN WITH ANY PESTICIDE NOT SPECIFICALLY LABELLED AND CLEARED FOR SUCH USE.
The floors must be clear of books, toys, boxes, magazines, etc. areas under beds, settees and other furniture must be clear. The pet must be kept out of the house when treatment starts and people out of each room while the treatment is being carried out.
We treat all floor areas and sometimes furniture and animal beds with one of the following insecticides: Effect Microtech CS’* which contains Lambdacyhalothrin, Ficam W which contains 80% Bendiocarb w/w or K-Othrine which contains Deltamethrin. Also, a powder might be used called Ficam D*. This contains an insecticide in a dust formulation @ 1% w/w Bendiocarb. All insecticides are biodegradable, almost odourless, non-tainting and do not corrode or stain. They are not highly toxic towards mammals but are extremely so to all forms of crawling and flying public health pests.
What Do I Do Afterwards?
Do not let domestic animals walk on treated surfaces until dry and if bare skin comes into contact whilst wet then wash. Do not vacuum for at least two weeks, after the first vacuum change the bag and dispose of the bag away from the house. For this first week of vacuuming, vacuum at least once a day but preferably twice. The flea infestation will not be controlled immediately and may even increase slightly after initially seeming to die out within a 7-14 day period. So fleas may be present for up to 21 days after the spray. It is advisable that lawns are mown soon after treatment as in warm weather fleas may survive in outside areas. It is important to reduce humidity and keep the premises warm, so leaving windows open or using a dehumidifier makes eradication more likely and quicker. The animals should be fitted with fresh Flea collars, treated with Frontline (or similar) or sprayed/dusted with a spray/dust made for this purpose. Any remaining fleas will feed on the animal rather than humans. If the premises are not occupied there may be flea activity for up to 3 weeks from the date of occupation. Do not avoid infested areas as fleas have the ability to remain dormant in their pupae cases for up to a year unless they stimulated by warmth, movement and carbon dioxide. As long as any animals have been treated, keep them indoors so that any remaining fleas present in the 21 day period since the treatment will then feed on the animals and not humans.
Domestic treatments are guaranteed (treated areas only) for one month after the first spray and are only valid as long instructions and advice on hygiene and other matters are adhered to, the guarantee does not apply to premises where more than 2 animals are present. In some cases, it may be necessary to spray on a monthly basis until the infestation is eradicated especially in shared, communal or multi-occupancy buildings. Insecticide treatments will only work on clean surfaces. Commercial offices are not guaranteed.
The cost for a guaranteed flea spray is £75.00 + VAT (House up to 3 bedrooms) OUTSIDE the M25.
The cost for a guaranteed flea spray is £85.00 + VAT (House up to 3 bedrooms) INSIDE the M25, and INSIDE CENTRAL OXFORD.
Fleas In An Office
In the case of an office-type environment being infested with fleas, it is vitally important that people with animals (especially cats) at home get their homes and animals treated. In most instances, fleas will only feed on humans if the host animal is absent (or the infestation has built up to large numbers) so the person(s) with animals bringing the fleas/eggs into the office may not realise they have a problem at home. If this concern is not addressed flea problems will continue. For this reason, office-type environments are not guaranteed.
Fleas In Empty Houses
At PEST UK we often get Estate Agents and Landlords phoning us with flea problems in empty houses. Fleas in a property that is unoccupied can present a problem. The problem is this: In ‘normal circumstances’ a flea treatment will take 2-3 weeks to die out and this time frame is dependant on the house being occupied with plenty of movement within the house, the house is 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. It is not the adult flea to the larvae that have this ability but the adult flea in the pupa case. The lifecycle of a flea in brief is an egg, maggot-like larvae then it pupates before emerging as an adult. While in the pupa stage the larvae turn into the adult but wait for the stimulus of one or a combination of warmth, movement and carbon dioxide before coming out of the pupa was. This can be instant or can take a couple of weeks, it just depends on circumstances. The Flea Pupa is waterproof and not affected 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 pets 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 has not emerged. This is a factor that a lot of insects in larval stages have, staggered emergence. This protects the species and makes the survival of some more likely.
There is an oil-based insecticide called Permost Uni that will penetrate the flea put case. Problem is that as it is oil-based it will damage carpets and even using this insecticide may require more than one spray. It is also much more expensive.
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).
Fleas – General Information
Fleas are a relatively small but distinct group of insects known as the Siphonaptera. All fleas are parasitic as adults on warm-blooded animals (mammals or birds) and most are adapted to living on one type of animal (or close relations). Some species are able to feed on a range of hosts but may only be able to breed when feeding on their primary host. A number of species are important pests but the cat flea is by far the most common flea found in domestic premises. The cat flea is usually found in association with the domestic cat, but it is often found on dogs and will bite humans. Fleas cannot jump higher than 6 inches.
The adults spend only some of their time on the host animal, usually only to feed, the majority of the time is spent in the host’s bedding or carpets from where they can climb or hop back onto the host when they require a feed.
Fleas have a distinct larval (or grub) phase and an intermediate pupae stage between the larva and adult. The life cycle is therefore very different from the bed bugs and lice whose young are similar in appearance and habit to the adult and are called nymphs. The female flea may lay as many as 25 eggs per day with a total of about 800-1000 eggs during a lifetime, which may last over a year. The eggs may be laid in the host’s bed or lodge in the fur before dropping off onto the floor. They hatch after about 5 days and the small white larvae which emerge feed on organic debris and on adult flea faeces, rich in partly digested blood After about three weeks, during which time they molt twice, the fully-grown larvae spin a silk cocoon covered in debris in which to pupate. They moult after three days and change into the pupae stage. A gradual transformation now takes place and after about 2 weeks the adult emerges from the pupa. It does not immediately leave the cocoon, however, unless stimulated by vibrations, which indicate the presence of a host. It can remain in this ‘waiting state’ for up to 1 year. Thus, a heavy flea infestation may appear in a building room, which has been unoccupied for some time. In good conditions in heated premises, the life cycle takes about 4-6 weeks from egg to adult but longer at lower temperatures. Once they have emerged from the pupa, adults normally live for 2-4 months if feeding regularly. They can survive over a year at lower temperatures.
Both males and females require blood for nutrition and feed on nothing else. The female also requires blood from her preferred host in order to lay viable eggs, so an infestation where no domestic animals are present will not breed but will still need treatment as the fleas will feed off of humans in the absence of domestic animals. Fleas will often prefer women and children to men, no one knows why.
Where conditions are favourable fleas will eat more than they need excreting more semi-digested blood than usual for their grubs to feed on. This ensures that the population expands when conditions are right.
It is often the case that a flea infestation will go unnoticed by the human inhabitants until the removal of the host animal, after which the fleas are forced to look for alternative food, i.e. humans. It is common that previously empty houses or houses where a cat was living will have a flea problem once the new occupiers move in. The original owners may have not realized there was a problem, as the fleas would have been feeding on the animal leaving the people alone.
The eggs of the flea are comparatively large, 0.5 mm in length and oval or round in shape, pearly white in colour and are sticky which attracts debris from the surrounding habitat, thus camouflaging their appearance.
For every flea found on the host, there will probably be a hundred or so in the bedding (if there is any as most cats are allowed to sleep anywhere in the house) and carpets, hence the effectiveness of insecticidal collars on the animal without a full treatment is very limited. The cat flea commonly causes domestic infestations in Britain.