If you’ve recently had a rodent problem, or your pet — or even family member — has been scratching more than normal, you might also have a flea problem. While it’s incredibly unpleasant and uncomfortable, there are effective ways to get rid of them.
Control outbreaks by vacuuming carpets and rugs every two days and clean under beds where dust accumulates. Don’t allow your pets under the house — dry dirt makes an ideal flea breeding ground — and make sure to vacuum pet bedding regularly.
Once that’s done, throw out the vacuum bag or empty the vacuum cleaner’s contents into an airtight plastic bag (time to break out the rubber gloves) and discard it immediately to get rid of captured larvae and pupae — young and teenage fleas, to you and me.
The usual pet regime also applies — treat your pets with washes, powders, ‘spot’ preparations or treatments recommended by your vet — but regularly applying pet-friendly insecticide to areas commonly used by your furry friend will also keep them protected.
Post-infestation, you can make sure your home is really free from fleas by setting off a Mortein Flea Bomb, which is designed to kill all fleas in the area, as well as breaking their breeding cycle with a special Insect Growth Regulator for nine months protection from re-infestation.
FLEAS ORDER SIPHONAPTERA
Complete life cycle; minute to small (1-10 mm in length); wingless; strongly laterally compressed; piercing and sucking mouthparts for a life as ectoparasites on mammals and birds; hind legs are highly modified for jumping and with various setae and spines for holding onto the hair or feathers of their hosts. Larvae are wormlike, and live in the nests of their hosts.
Most fleas lay several hundred eggs per female, either in the nest of a most or on the host from where they usually fall into the nest. The larvae, with three instars, live in the nest from several weeks to many months, feeding on organic matter. Only one species has a parasitic larvae which burrows into the skin of the host.
The larvae pupate within various shaped cocoons in the nest and adult emergence can be delayed up to several months until a suitable host is present. The vibration of a host arriving is enough to trigger the emergence of adult fleas.
Source: A field guide to insects in Australia - third edition - Paul Zborowski and Ross Storey - New Holand publishers