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- Spring is Flea Season
When Shakespeare wrote "... that's a valiant
flea that dare eat his breakfast on the lip of a lion,"
he was probably writing about a cat flea. Cat fleas are very common,
even among lions, but putting a flea collar on a lion is a job strictly
for volunteers, like giving a housecat a bath. Either may temporarily
eliminate the fleas from the animal, but neither will rid the premises
of the problem, Also, your lion will look a little silly wearing
a flea collar.
Cat fleas, dog fleas, rat fleas and wild rodent fleas
are common in California. Less common are human fleas, but they
are still around, and all fleas will bite any warm-blooded creature
if their preferred host is not available, Fleas can live up to a
month without feeding, but they need a blood meal to reproduce,
and some are dangerous to humans. Rat fleas and wild rodent fleas
carry typhus, and some carry bubonic plague, These fleas do not
usually bite humans unless their host animal has sickened, died
or been killed, That is one reason a good pest control operator
will recommend treating for fleas when eliminating rats and mice,
and a good reason for never touching the carcass of a rat, chipmunk,
squirrel or other rodent.
Fleas evolve in four stages: Egg, larval, pupal and
adult. The eggs look like grains of salt and may be laid on the
animal or in its bedding. After about three days, the eggs hatch
into worm-like larvae which move in hitching motions, like inchworms.
They also flip rapidly in circles when disturbed. After a week or
so, they spin cocoons and enter the pupal stage, emerging as adults
three or four days later. Adults are brown to brownish-black in
color, with narrow bodies that allow them to move rapidly through
fur, feathers or hair, and legs that make them some of nature's
best jumpers. They will also emerge voraciously hungry and ready
for bear (or lion, or you).
Your property can become infested even without pets.
Animals, especially cats, frequently seek relief by leaving infested
areas, carrying fleas with them. Once the infestation becomes irritatingly
obvious , you should seek professional help for a thorough eradication.
Over-the-counter sprays will only do part of the job.
Professional pest control operators will recommend
a thorough indoor and outdoor treatment in three stages. First,
they will spray the areas of obvious infestation for immediate results.
Second, they will recommend spraying with a new type of chemical
called an insect growth regulator. It is less toxic than a pesticide.
It also lasts longer -- up to six months. Its purpose is to keep
flea larvae from growing into adults. Third, the operators will
recommend spraying with an additional pesticide, just to be sure
that the eradication is
To prevent re-infestation, you should:
- Have your pets treated for fleas the same day your property
- Vacuum all carpeting, especially under furniture, and immediately
empty the cleaner bag into a sealable trash container, Tightly
seal the container and dispose of it.
- Launder or replace your pet's bedding.
- Clean your pet's shelter.
- Remove all small objects from the area to be sprayed, especially
toys. Members of the Pest Control Operators of California will
absolutely refuse to endanger children by spraying toys or anything
else that a child could put in its mouth.
- Clean all surfaces to be treated,Pesticides and insect growth
regulators work better and last longer on clean surfaces.
- Keep your pets out of the treated area until the spray dries,
usually for 10 to 20 minutes on a warm and dry day, or up to several
hours on a cool or humid one.
The advantage of having a pest control operator treat
your property, rather than you blasting away with spray cans, is
that the operator will know where to spray for maximum effect. Fleas
are quick to find new homes after their old ones have been treated.
A good pest control operator will track them down, unless the pest
happens to be hiding on the lip of a lion. Pest control operators
do not treat pets -- especially lions.