Frank the Flea: Understand the flea to beat the flea!

As we are slowly (very slowly) approaching into spring, we will see different changes in the environment, including:

  • Lighter mornings
  • Lighter evenings
  • Warmer temperatures.
  • An increase in humidity

Now, I would love to say less rainfall, but let’s be honest, Cornwall is known for its dramatic and constant rainfall despite what the weather forecasts says!

However, these 4 things that happen in the environment are the beginnings of the flea population.

First let’s look at how a Flea is created. The diagram below is an educational resource from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

flea

There are four stages:

  1. The eggs are laid in the environment, such as long grass, uncleaned materials and anything warm.
  2. Eggs hatch into Larvae, this is the immature stage, it then continues to mature in stage 3.
  3. The Larvae forms pupae (similar to a cocoon) until it reaches full maturity.
  4. Once the Larvae is it full mature, it then hatches into an adult Flea

The entire cycle, from egg to adult flea is completed between 12 – 22 days with ideal temperature and humidity conditions, however, it usually takes 3 – 4 weeks. During Stage 2, dogs can ingest the the larvae e.g. by eating grass, the larvae then develop into tapeworms, hence why its super important to both flea and worm your pets!

Only approximately 5% of a flea infestation is made up of adult fleas on your pet, whereas 95% is in your home as eggs, larvae and pupae.”

Professor Jan Slapeta, senior lecturer in veterinary parasitology at the University of Sydney and flea expert said fleas increase their population during spring and summer months as the temperature allows flea to mature quicker. To understand this a little better we have organised an interview with Frank the Flea.

toonvectors-8933-140Let’s have a quick interview with Frank the flea on how the population begins:

So, Frank, how come we do not see you very much between October to March?

Frank: Well, like some lucky people, I like to make the most of warm climates as this is the best time for me and my wife to lay eggs and start making a small population. I sometimes hitch a ride on people or their dogs when they embark for their holidays, or animals being imported to different countries and locations.

Interesting Frank, so is this how we see a massive increase in flea populations? Or do you have any other tactics?

Frank:  I have many tactics, being a parasite, I have the ability to keep adapting, which can make it harder for people to decrease my success in creating populations. I think our biggest success was when the fleas resisted to Frontline Products, which meant that the animals were not protected. This was great for us fleas, as it meant scientists had to spend longer trying to find a way to battle us!

But we do like to lay our eggs in warm places, including warm corners of a house or bed area.  Or even areas in the environment that receive a lot of warmth from the sun.

Do all fleas have the same method to create populations?

Frank: Majority  of us have the same method, some also can remain dormant in carpets, wood and other bits of furniture until the weather temperature and humidity increases. However, this is risky if owners are very good at cleaning and disinfecting their homes we can get destroyed.

Do you have a favourite host Frank?

Frank: Good question! I must admit Rabbits are the easiest to host and infect. There is a huge wild population of Rabbits, which means they come into contact with foxes, badgers, dogs and cats, so we connect with lots of different hosts just by using one host to begin with! We lay our eggs on the rabbit, then they hatch and once they reach adult hood then they can spread to other hosts.  Now, it is important to remember we are parasites and there are different types of fleas that prefer one host.

So, there is my friend Catrina who is known as the Cat Flea Ctenocephalides felis.

There also is Bruce, the dog flea expert, also referred to as the Ctenocephalides canis

We all have the same purpose: collect blood, lay eggs and then find a new host to repeat this procedure, which includes humans!. Thus, the ever-growing population of Fleas! we do also spread nasty bacteria and can cause a lot of pain! Hence, why no-one likes us!

 Is there anything that can stop this population growing?

Frank: Great question, as I have said we are great at adapting but are main threat is preventative management and high levels of cleanliness. We also hate it when animals are groomed as they removed all our eggs! Which means we need to try and start again ☹. Also, the new tick and flea tablets are also a  big threat to us, most owners may forget to flea their pet once a month, which means we have a great opportunity. But the the three-month tablets reduce these opportunities ☹.

Thanks Frank, that’s all we need!

Now, it is important to remember that Fleas also transmit nasty bacteria and damaging microbes into the animal’s bloodstream, which is why its super important to prevent fleas and diagnose them as soon as possible!

As Frank mentioned ….

Now, it is important to remember we are parasites and there are different types of fleas that prefer one host.

So, there is my friend Catrina who is known as the Cat Flea Ctenocephalides felis.

There is Bruce, the dog flea expert, also referred to as the Ctenocephalides canis

This means you need to ensure your pets flea treatment is aimed for this flea parasite, your vet should be able to offer you further advice on the best product to prevent adn eradicate flea . It will also help you understand where the flea may lay their eggs, if you have cat, it is mostly like to be outside. If it is a dog, then they may lay more of their eggs in bedding and furniture.

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Here you can see MiPet’s spot on product for Fleas. It provides you with the flea and parasite names to ensure you destroying and prevent the correct parasite for your pet!

Always:

Check the box for the right parasite.

Create reminders in your phone or calendar for when they are next due.

Ensure your home and your pet remains a high levels of cleanliness.

 

What would the Symptoms be?

Each animal’s symptoms may differ, but you will see:

  • Constant Itching at the infected area
    • Ears, Back of the neck, tail bone and any blind spots on the animal.
  • Fur loss at the infected area
  • The skin may become dry and flaky
  • Tapeworms (delivered by the flea)
  • Some dogs may also go off their food.

If you see any of these it’s important to take immediate action:

  • Contact your vet for Flea treatment
  • Purchase a flea topical treatment to wash your animals fur.
  • Thoroughly comb and brush your animal to ensure eggs are removed
  • Hoover, clean and disinfect everything your animal has come into contact with.
    • Bed, Dog bed, Car, Carpet, Friends house, Cat bed, Rabbit hutch, door corners, leads, harnesses, toys.
    • Also wash also your clothing, bedding etc and disinfect it if you can!
    • For rabbits and guinea pigs, remove all the ‘infected’ bedding and clean and disinfect the cage and replace with new bedding and saw dust.

Your animal should be flea free!

Here are our top recommendations to prevent fleas:

Safe4 Disinfectant. Scientifically proven, DEFRA approved (big tick) and is used by hundreds of animal centres including Sea Life, Veterinary Practices, Zoos, Emergency services and even cruise liners!   Click on image for more details.download

 

 

Animalogy Flea and Tick Shampoo. This can be purchased in any Pets at Home Store or online, we would reccomned using this weekly, especially in the summer months! It also worth speaking to your dog groomer to find best cut and shampoo for your animal, as this will help you spot fleas quicker and it will decrease the flea’s attraction to the animal. Long coats with lots of fluff make can make it easier for fleas to hide.

For Spot On treatments or Oral Flea Treatments, it is best to speak to your vet. 

If you feel you may not be able to keep up to date with the worming and flea treatment then we recommend the Oral treatment, which lasts for 3 months and also includes your worming treatment.

Some veterinary practises offer memberships and reminders for these treatments for a fixed fee per month, which is extremely valuable as they also provide you with the treatment!

Whatever you decide to do, ensure you clean, disinfect and watch for fleas!

If you were a flea where would you lay your eggs?