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Lets talk Fleas

Fleas are the lice of the animal world. And like children, if you have pets, you will have to deal with fleas at least once, if not more.A flea has amazing skill and can jump 200x its body lenght, about 13 inches. Fleas live not only on pets, but wild critters as well. So even if you dont have neighbor dogs, or wandering cats, the squirrels will make sure you don’t miss out on all the flea fun.

flea-life-cycle-demonstrationAn adult flea starts off as an egg. Flea eggs account for about 50% of your flea population. After a feeding, a female flea will lay about eggs, usually about 20 a day and about 600 in her lifetime, preferably on her host.Flea eggs are white and are the smaller than a grain of salt. They are round and usually fall off the coat of the animal and fall into carpet, furniture, grass, etc, whereever the pet lays.

After a few days or even a few weeks, the larva emerges from its shell. The flea larva make up about 35% of your flea population.  They have no legs so they dont move far and they feed on flea feces. This is the “black dirt” you find on your pets body. It looks like black salt. Since fleas feed on blood, they poop blood. If you were to wash this off of your dog, the water would have an orange to red tint, that is from the “flea poop”.. Gross, isnt it…

The larvae begin to pupate and form a cocoon. Fleas are almost impossible to detect and even harder to kill at this stage. The pupae make up about 10% of your flea population. They stay in the cocoon until the timing is right. They can detect heat, carbon dioxide and movement. This means a host is nearby. This is when the fleas will emerge from their shells and begin feeding on their hosts..

An adult flea can live on dead skin cells etc, they do not have to suck blood. If a flea never feeds on blood they can live an extensive amount of time. However, once it has a blood feeding it has to feed every few hours or it dies.

Fleas excrete a saliva before they bite that makes feeding easier. This saliva compound causes an allergic reaction, some more severe than others. This is what makes the pet itch. So even after the flea has died, the bites will still be irritating to the pet.

Once the flea begins feeding on blood, it is able to start the flea life cycle again. This life cycle can be two weeks to two years, depending on environmental factors. This is why flea treatment in several stages is important. We will talk about flea treatments later….

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