Many homes in Australia fall victim to fleas, especially households with pets.
However, even without pets, it is still possible to experience flea problems, such as if the previous residents of your home had dogs or cats.
Fleas can puncture human or pet skin with their mouths in order to suck the blood of their hosts. More than 2,000 flea species around the world have been discovered.
Fleas are fairly common for those who have pets or who work closely with animals in their careers. These creatures have a hard body with a polished appearance and a very durable exterior that is extremely resistant to pressure. This enables them to withstand scratching and other attempts by humans and animals to get rid of them. Their laterally compressed bodies also enable them to weave in and out of the furs, hairs or feathers on the bodies of their hosts.
Despite not being equipped with wings, fleas can move around very easily. Their long legs enable them to jump great distances, with most fleas being able to leap to a height of up to 18cm, or horizontally up to 33 cm. Relative to the size of their bodies, they are one of the world’s best jumpers; only the froghopper is better.
Fleas can also move around on the bodies of other animals, especially those with lots of fur like foxes, mice, rats, rabbits and farm animals like pigs.
Fleas are parasites and thus bite their hosts. While these bites do not hurt, they can soon turn itchy or develop into a rash. Some people or pets also become allergic to the saliva of fleas.
What Do Fleas Eat?
The main diet of adult fleas consists of their hosts’ blood. Female fleas drink an average of 15 times their body weight in blood every day. The larvae do not drink blood; instead, they consume other parts of their host like skin flakes, hair and dried blood, and also the faeces left behind by adult fleas on the beds or floor of the host’s home.
What Are Flea Bites Like?
When fleas bite people, a round, red mark with a small, dark red dot in the centre appears on the skin. This usually stays for a few hours, and reactions differ from case to case. Itching is sometimes felt, while allergies can give rise to great swelling and hives. When occurring on children, flea bites can look more serious and be itchier than they are on adults due to the greater sensitivity of children’s skin. Bites are usually concentrated on the lower legs and ankles.
Dealing With Flea Bites
If a flea bite turns severe or gives rise to allergic reactions, contact a doctor or see a pharmacist. You can also try the following in order to minimise redness and itchiness:
- Wash the bitten area with a gentle antiseptic detergent or soap.
- Put some ice over the area to calm inflammation and swelling.
- Apply a bit of calamine lotion or other soothing concoction for relief.
How Dangerous Are Fleas?
Fleas can be extremely uncomfortable and annoying, especially for pets, and have no qualms about transferring themselves to a human host. Being fed on by fleas can affect humans and pets in the following ways:
- Triggering allergies and skin conditions like dermatitis and mange in cats and dogs.
- Severe flea attacks can cause pets to lose hair and become anaemic.
- Transmitting tapeworms to cats and dogs.
- Causing itchiness, redness and discomfort when feeding on humans.
- Scratching flea bites on animals and people can result in secondary infections.
- Flea saliva can trigger allergic reactions in animals and people.
- Spreading diseases and germs like the bubonic plague, murine typhus and cat-scratch germs.
Solving Flea Problems
Your Flick technician will inspect your home to identify, treat and get rid of fleas in and around your home. The products used are environmentally friendly and safe, and only to be administered by licensed technicians. Occasionally dependent upon the severity of the infestation retreatment may need to occur to break the flea breeding cycle long term.
The place to start with solving Flea problems is with the host. If a Cat or Dog has fleas then it is wise to visit your vet to purchase an oral flea treatment. A bath with a registered flea product should be carried out asap, and all pet bedding and resting places should be treated with a product registered for the purpose. Once these measures are carried out then it is time to call in your Flick technician.
Dependent upon where the problem started and after a thorough inspection of the property usually inside or outside of the premises will need to be treated, sometimes both will need to be done.
Inside the home all floor areas have a suitable product applied to them, this often necessitates the moving of furniture and removal then replacement of rugs, mats etc. the rugs and mats once replaced are treated themselves. Extra attention is paid to areas where pets spend a lot of time resting or feeding.
Outside the home all ground areas are treated. Lawns should be mown low and watered with the equivalent of around 10mm of rain (this aids hatching of larvae and penetration into the soil of the pesticide). Garden beds can be problematic as penetration through mulch is often difficult, however there are often pet resting areas in garden beds so attention must be paid to this.
Flea Treatment and End-Of-Lease Flea Service
Fleas are stubborn pests and a good pest control programme is often needed to eradicate them completely. Those with pets are often required by their landlords to have an end-of-lease flea service performed on the property before they can receive a refund of their bond. Flick Anticimex administers flea treatments all over Australia in cooperation with real estate agents.
To have a flea treatment done on your home, ring your local Flick office at 13 14 40.