Helpful Hints on Treating Fleas

  • You will achieve better results if the environment and your pets are treated at the same time.
  • Do not avoid the flea infested areas after treatment otherwise you will reduce the effectiveness of the treatment. Remember the spare room, shed or places where your pet likes to sleep.
  • If you remove your pet, the flea infestation may appear to be worse, as you have become the only potential host.
  • If you are going on holidays, have a friend stomp through the house/yard several times while you are away, especially on the day of your return. The fleas will hatch and die on the treated surfaces before you return.

Flea CycleThe life cycle of the flea is similar to that of a moth – egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (cocoon) and adult.  A newly hatched adult flea is unfed, small, black and aggressive. After they have had a blood meal, fleas lighten in colour and become larger.  For every flea on your pet there may be hundreds waiting to hatch!

Sometimes flea treatments appear to be ineffective as small black fleas are seen after the treatment.  This is because the pupae are quite resistant to chemicals.  Fleas continue to emerge from pupal cases because insecticides cannot penetrate the flea pupal case.  Ten fleas can potentially reproduce to 250,000 in only 30 days!

Fleas lay eggs on pets when the host is resting.  The white eggs fall off the pet onto the carpet, soil etc.  Small blind larvae emerge from the eggs.  These larvae move away from the light, burrowing down into the carpet, cracks in floorboards or into the soil.  They feed on protein, such as flea droppings of partly digested blood.  They moult three times before forming a pupa.  The larva changes into the adult in the pupa.  The pupa is sticky, so it binds its surrounds to itself, becoming invisible.

In summer, a flea may be ready to hatch from the pupa about 7-14 days after it is formed, however they can remain dormant for up to 18 months.  Hatching of the flea from the pupa is triggered by nearby movement, predominantly during warm, moist weather conditions.

After feeding on the host, the engorged female flea is ready to mate and lay eggs – about 24 hours after hatching.  She is capable of laying up to 500 eggs (27 per day) over a lifetime which may span several weeks.

Treatment Tips:

1. Indoors – Remove items i.e. toys, clothes from the floor.  Some insecticides can affect fish so cover the fish tank and turn off the filter prior to treatment.  Return your pets only after the treatment has dried.

2. Treat your pet(s) – Advice may be sought from your vet.  The use of pet soaps or shampoos may reduce the residual action of the treatment.

3. Be patient – Even if everything has been done correctly, you will still see newly hatched fleas, usually for several weeks.  Do not leave flea infested areas undisturbed as movement hatches fleas.

4. Leave your pet in the flea infested areas – Your pet will attract the fleas.  If your pet is removed from the infested area, fleas will continue to hatch for about six weeks with normal ‘human’ activity.  Retreat your pet regularly according to the label of the on-animal flea product.

EXPECTATIONS – Fleas will be seen when an area is newly disturbed such as getting up in the morning or going outside, but not later in the day in that area.  If the treatment is working, fleas will hatch, contact the treated surfaces (carpets, soil) or your pet (treated with an on-animal product) and die within a few hours.