Flea Control and How to Get Rid of Fleas
Fleas are parasites that feed on humans and other warm blooded animals. When you have a flea problem you and your pets, serve as the host. Most of the time, fleas prefer nonhuman source for feeding, but if infestations are heavy or when other hosts are not available, fleas will feed on humans. Fleas usually require warm and humid conditions to develop. A flea can jump 7 to 8 inches vertically and 14 to 16 inches horizontally with their long and powerful legs.
A skin reaction to a flea bite appears as a slightly raised and red itchy spot. Sometimes these sores bleed.
Due to the flea life cycle (complete metamorphosis) and feeding habits, many people don't realize they have a flea problem until they are away from their house for an extended period. This realization of a flea problem happens because the fleas get hungry while the hosts are away, and they become highly active when the hosts return. People tend to think to put the pet outside will solve the flea problem, but that typically makes the fleas turn to human hosts instead.
There are several types of fleas, but the most common is the cat flea, which also feeds on dogs and humans. Fleas are attracted to body heat, movement, and exhaled carbon dioxide.
The average flea ranges in size from 1/12 to 1/6 inch long. Fleas are very small and have no wings. Their bodies are narrow if viewed from the sides. Slender fleas can get into and move around in narrow areas.
Adult fleas feed on blood and the larvae eat "flea diet" consisting of dried blood.
Habits and Biology of Fleas:
Fleas go through a complete metamorphosis. There are four distinct stages: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult. Flea eggs are laid on the host or are deposited on the floor or ground. These eggs do not remain attached to the host but fall to the ground such as pet's bedding or floor surface. They are often found in upholstery or pet's bedding.
A female flea will continue to lay a few eggs every day until she has yielded up to 200 to 400 eggs. These eggs will develop into flea larvae within two days to several weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity. Flea larvae are active and look like maggots. The larvae will feed on organic debris, but particularly like to feed on feces of the adult fleas. This "flea diet" contains undigested blood. The flea larvae are hard to spot and are found deep in the carpets or the cracks and crevices of floors and upholstery. They are very difficult to vacuum because they get entwined in the carpet fibers.
The next stage, called the pupae look like a cocoon, also hard to spot. Under warm conditions many adult fleas will emerge from this protective cocoon within 7 to 14 days, longer under less favorable conditions.
Whenever you see adult fleas crawling on your pet, it is only a symptom of a much larger problem. Current studies indicate that adult fleas account for only 5% of the total flea population in any given situation. Eggs account for 50%, larvae account for about 35%, and the remaining 10% are the pupa cocoons. That means that for every single adult flea living on your dog or cat, there are ten eggs, seven larvae, and two cocoons.
In the pet's environment, these various life cycle stages occur, but concentrated in the areas that the pet spends most of its time, such as the pet's bed area. Remember, when the adult flea lays an egg on the pet, it will fall off the hairs in just a few minutes onto areas the pet moves. These flea eggs become very small larvae (worm-like). The larvae seek protection deep in carpet fibers, under cushions, and cracks and crevices. After the larvae stage, they move into the cocoon stage with pupae inside, which may remaim up to six weeks.
If the pet usually walks through certain paths (either indoors or outdoors), there will also be a substantial amount of eggs scattered in those areas; similar to sowing seeds in a garden. What this means is that environmental flea control must be spread over the pet's entire environment, focusing on the areas the pet spends the majority of its time. The sleeping areas and walking paths are the most important areas both indoors and outdoors.
Recommended Flea Control Treatment
The best time to start a flea control program is in the late spring, prior to an infestation, since adult fleas comprise only 5% of the total flea population. To contain an active flea infestation, fleas must be controlled at every stage.
Flea Control Treatment- Inside Home
Dust, sweep, vacuum, and mop all surfaces where pets have been frequently. Eggs are laid on the pet and drop off as it moves. All affected pets should be treated and removed from the premises for 4 to 6 hours. Remove birds from the home if you are using liquid insecticides or aerosols. Cover or remove fish, and turn off the tank pump.
You should keep covered shoes on until all treated areas have dried (4-6 hours). We suggest using the liquid/IGR method or our recommended flea control aerosols on area on all floor surfaces, paying attention to where your pet spends its time. If your pet is on the couch, treat it as well (after testing a small inconspicuous spot for staining).
Liquid Residual Insecticides and IGR (Insect Growth Regulators) combinations: FenvaStar EcoCap or FenvaStar Plus are liquid insecticide residual treatments. Using a residual insecticide concentrate controls the adult flea and combining it with an insect growth regulator (IGR) such as Tekko Pro IGR prevents the larvae from developing into the cocoon stage, stopping the cycle. This method lasts 4-6 months. It is important to stop the flea cycle which may take up to six weeks. You may apply Tekko Pro IGR by itself if you start before the cycle begins. Flea season starts in the spring time and lasts thru the fall months. Unfortunately, IGRs do not work well outside, since the sunshine will break it down.
- If you have mainly carpets and rugs, use the FenvaStar Plus and Tekko IGR combination mixed with water in a pump sprayer (see mixture below).
- If you have mainly hard floor surfaces, use the FenvaStar EcoCap and Tekko IGR combination mixed with water in a pump sprayer (see mixture below) The EcoCap formulation adhears better to hard surfaces than the FenvaStar Plus. You may also use our recommended flea control aerosols.
- ( Recommended flea control aerosols may be used on all types of floor surfaces (except concrete), which most people choose for convenience.)
Flea Control Aerosols: Precor 2526 Premise Spray or PT Alpine Flea Spray are perfect aerosol products for flea control because they have insecticides and IGRs combined with active ingredients to provide quick knockdowns.
Precor 2526 and PT Alpine Flea aerosols are our recommended aerosol products because they have a newer chemistry with better results than many of the current flea control aerosols on the market. Using an aerosol instead of a liquid insecticide/IGR combination is advantageous because you don't have to mix anything in a pump sprayer. This method lasts 4-6 months.
Recommended flea control using growth inhibitors (IGRs) and liquid insecticides
- Tekko IGR-Top recommendation because it has a blend of two different types of active ingredients for superior results.
- Precor IGR
Recommended residual insecticides:
- Fenvastar Plus- 16 oz yields 20 gallons at the recommended concentration (good only on carpet and rugs; has an odor)
- FenvaStar EcoCap-8 oz yields 4 gallons, gallon yields 64 gallons at the recommended concentration (good on all floor surfaces: carpet, rugs and hard surfaces, has a low odor)
Mix the residual insecticide and growth inhibitor in a pressure lawn and garden sprayer according to directions.
For every 1,000 square feet of carpeted surface, mix:
- 2.0 oz - FenvaStar Eco Cap + 1 oz- Tekko Pro IGR + 1 gallon of water (Recommended for concrete surfaces, carpet, rugs, and hard floor surfaces)
- 0.83 oz.- FenvaStar Plus +. 1 oz -Tekko Pro IGR + 1 gallon of water
- Recommended rates above are for maximum strength and effectiveness.
- NOTE: For hardwood or tile, these formulations will cover 1,500 sq, however the FenvaStar Plus doesn't work as well as the FenvaStar EcoCap on hard floor surfaces.
- Use all mixed solution the same day you mix it, because it does not store well.
- Expect to continue seeing fleas the first month. These are pupa that continue to emerge. Results from the growth inhibitor cannot be judged for about four -six weeks after initial treatment. Re-treatment with the residual insecticide will probably be necessary during the first 30 days.
- The IGR will last on average about 4 months, and can last 6 to 7 months.
Aerosols : Best Choice for Hard Surfaces Inside (May be used on carpets and rugs)
Precor 2625 Premise Spray or Alpine Flea Aerosol are the best choices for hard floor surfaces, such as laminate, tile, and hardwood flooring ( and may be used on carpets or rugs). Aerosols do not work as well on concrete surfaces.These aerosols adhere to the surface more readily than other liquid insecticides. They contain the IGRs and adult insecticides in one formultation, no mixing needed. They have a slight odor. Precor 2625 has a 360-degree valve that allows both inverted and upright applications. In most cases, you will need to spray twice. The first time to get the flea cycle cut and kill adult fleas and the second time in about 10-14 days as you wait for the complete cycle to stop and you need immediate relief (fleas are still emerging from the cocoon stages).
- An exterior flea problem can be caused by your pets and/or other animals in the area. Exterior treatment is most effective in a contained area that is kept mowed and free of debris.
- Liquid concentrates for flea control would be faster, but would require frequent retreatments(once a month)
- For short term results (but faster results), a recommended insecticide to kill the adult fleas is Bifen IT. Mix at the rate of 1 oz. per gallon of water. Use about 3 gallons of water per 1,500 -3000 sq. feet. Repeat once a month
- For long term results (but slower results), a recommended granulated insecticide to kill the adult fleas would be Bifen LP Granulars. This should be repeated every 2-3 months. For every 1,0000 sq. ft. of ground use: Bifen LP- Granules-25 lbs. This should be repeated at least once every two -three months during the flea season.
- Bifen LP and Bifen IT will work on ticks as well at the same rate of dosage.
If possible,consult your vet about the health and skin condition of your pet prior to treatment. Begin flea control on the pet by using a mild shampoo and a sponge-type flea dip, flea spray, or flea shampoo.
Recommended Pet Products
- Flee Trigger Spray -Same active ingredient as Frontline's Fipronil, but in a spray form
- Petcor Flea Spray: Kills fleas, ticks, lice and mosquitoes and prevents further infestations for up to 63 days. May be used on dogs, puppies, cats and kittens.
- Davis Triple Flea & Tick Shampoo: Contains triple pyrethrins in this flea shampoo to kill fleas on contact.
- Pure Planet Natural Flea and Tick Spray On Shampoo: Contains all natural ingredients to kill fleas and ticks
- Invade Bio Zap: Contains enzymes to break down and eliminate bad odors caused from urine, feces, vomit or decaying organic matter environmentally friendly in a ready to use formula.
Q: I sprayed for fleas last week and now they are back. Why didn't the spray work?
A: Even sprays that contain insecticides and growth inhibitors have difficulty penetrating the pupae cocoon. Flea larva that have entered a cocoon state will require follow up applications of the insecticides after they hatch. This is usually a 3 or 4 week process.