Mississippi has hot summers compared to the national average. Hot weather can spark a flea infestation in your home. Fleas can cause severe health issues to you and your pets, and spread disease. Here is what you need to know about fleas.
What Are Fleas?
Fleas are insects that are parasites of mammals and birds. The most commonly found flea pest in homes is the cat flea. Dog fleas can also be a problem, but most often it is the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) that is found to be infesting both dogs and cats in North America. They are small (about 1/12 inch), wingless, dark brown or black, six-legged insects that look flat from side to side. Fleas have been known to jump as far as 13 inches, about 200 times their own body length.
How do fleas develop?
Adult fleas lay eggs that hatch into white worm like larvae with brown heads. They are tiny and difficult to see (about 1/50 inch). Cat flea larvae have chewing mouthparts that they use to eat specks of dried blood. When they are full, the blood turns them nearly purple. They move quickly, disappearing into carpets, pet bedding, etc. Mature flea larvae crawl away from the area where they developed and work their way into cracks in floors or under the edges of pet beds, rugs or carpeting and spin loose, white, silken cocoons in which to pupate. Shortly after making the cocoon, the larva molts and forms a white pupa. The pupal stage is completed within seven to ten days, but adult fleas may remain inside their cocoons for months. A number of warm, humid days stimulate the adults to emerge as does the presence of a host nearby. The adults are ready to feed as soon as they leave the cocoon.
How can you tell if you have a flea problem?
If your pets are continually scratching themselves, there is a good chance they have fleas, particularly if they spend a lot of time outdoors. If you notice a salt and pepper-looking mixture in your pet’s bedding, it could be flea eggs and digested blood from adult fleas. Examine your pet’s skin, especially around the neck or the base of the tail. Look for adult fleas crawling on the pet, scabs caused by flea bites and flea dirt, which looks like small, black to rust-colored, comma-shaped bits of dandruff. Fleas may travel from pets to humans. When you wake up in the morning, you may have little red, itchy welts from flea bites. You may see little specks on your sheets, floor, socks and wherever your pets hang out. The specks are evidence of eggs and dead fleas.
If you suspect a flea infestation, contact us immediately. Fleas spread and can become an issue overnight. Contact us, today!