Fleas are a very small parasitic insect that belong to the order Siphonaptera, there are some 90 species represented in Australia, and adults will feed on blood and mainly on mammals like dogs cats and pigs. Flea bites may cause severe irritation and can result in disease transmission. A flea maybe between 1.5 and 4 mm long and are usually brown and laterally compressed this is to make it easier for them to travel through dense hair on their host, they are equipped with piercing and sucking mouthparts and very powerful legs for jumping .

Flea life cycle

Fleas undergo a complete metamorphosis where they will start out from an egg which will hatch into a lava which will then go into a pupa stage, then it will then hatch out into a juvenile flea and then once feeding will become an adult. A female flea will lay 4-8 eggs after each blood meal in her lifetime this will result in several hundred eggs are usually laid on the host animal or sometimes in around there bedding or sleeping areas. Eggs will normally hatch within 2 to 14 days but can sit there for months, once hatched the lava will feed on organic material, debris that can accumulate in carpets, pet bedding, cracks between floorboards and materials in soil. The lava will usually stay in this stage for about 15 days but may extend for several months in poor conditions. When feeding is complete the lava spins a silk cocoon to protect itself and pupates within the cocoon. The pupa stage will last from 7 to 14 days or can last over 12 months if the conditions are not correct therefore there total life cycle can take as little as 18 days or over 12 months to go from egg to adult where they may live between 100 and 500 days as an adult and can survive for up to 4 months without food.

Flea control

In the household flea control is normally best done via the host or your pet by applying long term flea control products to your pet, regular flea washes are not enough. You should understand that due to their life cycle it can take a long period of time to get a flea outbreak under control no matter what sort of treatment is done. If you feel you require the assistance of a pest technician  we will often recommend a product be placed on the pets and will then carry out usually a surface spray to the yard area, house interior if required and will then put a space spray under the sub floor area if needed. As a rule it is best not to let your pets go into the sub floor area of the house as this area creates a very good environment for the fleas to live. Prevention is always better than cure, bair in mind that you complain when you get 1 or 2 fleas on you but your pet may have hundreds on them and had them for a long period of time before you even notice the problem.

There are usually three times when we will encounter a serious flea problem in the home

  1. When the flea population has got to extremes and they are through the yard and once the pupa hatch the juvenile flea will basically attack anything that moves, in order for this to occur there has had to of been a flea problem for a long period of time and it may take several treatments to rectify.
  2. When you return from holidays and there has been no one in the house or the pets have been removed while away. The reason for this is that the fleas have not had a host to go on and have sat dormant waiting for the right environment and when you return to the house you create disturbance which makes the pupa hatch and therefore the juvenile flea comes out looking for a feed.
  3. Unfortunately the last reason is due to the death of a pet as this removes the normal host that the fleas have been feeding on and only leaves you,  these treatments can take the longest because you are not able to use the original host to control the population.

Why do I get fleas after a treatment?

The reason for this is due to their life cycle as the egg casing and the pupa casings a very hard for any chemical to penetrate despite what some products may say. Therefore the lava needs to come in contact with a suitable product like an insect growth regulator which can be applied at the time of a surface spray or pupa needs to hatch into juvenile flea before it will die. It is most common to get activity early in the morning when you get up or if the house is locked up all day when you return home from work as a disturbance through the house or yard will make the pupa hatch. You need to bear in mind that the chemicals will leave a residual and keep controlling the fleas as they hatch however any treatment on the yard will not last very long period of time.

What are grass fleas?

There is no such thing as a grass flea as grass does not have blood fleas can not go through a full life cycle on grass. What is generally the case is that pupa  have been hatching in the lawn resulting in juvenile fleas which are very aggressive or food hungry therefore people refer to them as grass fleas which is incorrect.

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