About Cat & Dog Fleas (Ctenocephalides spp.)
Adult Fleas are 2-3mm in length and generally shiny brown. They have a thin, laterally flattened body and large hind legs which allow them to jump onto passing hosts.
Fleas lay tiny white oval shaped eggs. Their larvae are small and pale with bristles over their body. They are without eyes, and have mouthparts adapted to chewing. While the adult flea’s diet consists solely of blood, the larvae feed on various organic matters, including the faeces of mature fleas.The Flea Life Cycle begins when the female lays after feeding.
Adult fleas must feed on blood before they can become capable of reproduction. Areas where the host rests and sleep become one of the primary habitats of eggs and developing fleas. They are blind and avoid sunlight, keeping to dark places like sand, cracks and crevices, and bedding. Given an adequate supply of food, larvae should pupate within 1-2 weeks. After going through three larval stages they spin a silken cocoon. After another week or two the adult flea is fully developed and ready to emerge from the cocoon. They may however remain resting during this period until they receive a signal that a host is near - vibrations (including sound), heat and carbon dioxide are all stimuli indicating the probable presence of a host. Fleas are known to overwinter in the larval or pupal stages.
Once the flea reaches adulthood its primary goal is to find blood - adult fleas must feed on blood in order to reproduce. Female fleas can lay 800 to 1000 eggs over their lifetime, which may be as long as two years. Fleas attack a wide variety of warm-blooded vertebrates including dogs, cats, humans, chickens, rabbits, squirrels, rats, ferrets, and mice. Some people and animals suffer allergic reactions to flea saliva resulting in rashes.
Flea Bites generally result in the formation of a slightly-raised swollen itching spot with a single puncture point at the centre. The bites often appear in clusters or lines of two bites, and can remain itchy and inflamed for up to several weeks afterwards.
A thorough survey is required to determine the level of the Flea Infestation. All infested animals should be treated with a suitable spot-on insecticide, which will kill the fleas on the pet. The pets bedding must be washed at 60 degrees C and the environment will then be treated with a fogger and residual insecticide.