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Fleas – common external parasites

The Pest Posse

Fleas are the most prevalent parasite found on fur-bearing animals. The cat flea is the most common domestic flea, and there are an estimated 2,000 species of fleas worldwide, with more than 300 types found in the United States. Other common fleas that pest management professionals may deal with include dog fleas, human fleas, and rat fleas.

Fleas are wingless, flat insects with three pairs of legs, dark reddish-brown, with the adult being about 1/8 of an inch long (1 to 3 mm).

Bites of cat fleas can be very annoying to humans because chemicals in flea saliva stimulate an immune response that causes itching. Fleas can be terrible vectors of diseases like bubonic plague and murine typhus.

They will feed on any warm-blooded body, including humans. However, they prefer to feed on hairy animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, mice, opossums, raccoons, and skunks.

The control of fleas should be performed using APM (Assessment-based Pest Management). For minor flea infestations, you should be installing pest monitors such as the Victor Ultimate Flea Trap or EZ Conceal pest monitors by VM Products.

The APM approach will also include working with your customer on preventing flea infestations through changing cultural practices in and around the structure.

On the inside of the home, this might be to declutter the house, vacuum regularly, or clean the pet bedding regularly. Performing these items may eliminate the blood debris leftover from the adult fleas that the flea larva prefers to feed on, thereby reducing the food supply.

As you move into a treatment for fleas, the first thing you want to do is consider the materials you will be using for your treatment. First and foremost, you want to use an IGR labeled for fleas. Next, you are going to need an adulticide designed to kill the adults in the larva.

Before selecting your adulticide, you must consider where you will be treated because some materials may leave a visible residue that is not appropriate for hardwood floors or dark tiles. There are many different types of materials that are labeled for indoor flea control. These range from aerosols to micro encapsulations to wettable powders and even emulsifiable concentrates. You must always read the label of the material you will be using before making an application because some labels only allow you to spot treat for fleas and not broadcast treat. Remember, the label is the law.

Would you like to know more about fleas, the treatment methods, and fleas as vectors? Then, sign up for the pest control industry’s only continuous training solution, Pest Posse Academy. Here you will find courses on fleas and a whole lot more.

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