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Flea Problems In Cold Weather

By Chris Williams on February 25, 2015.
vacuum cleaning a green rug

A flea treatment combined with regular vacuuming should break the flea cycle.

I’ve had an ‘interesting’ account I’ve been dealing with now for a few weeks involving a flea infestation. This is a house that was a rental unit that unfortunately was partially destroyed by the occupants leaving lots of damage behind for the owners to clean up and repair. Also, because of unauthorized pets, there was a massive flea infestation as well. The homeowners tried their very best to control the infestation themselves prior to contacting my firm. During renovations, the carpet was replaced as well. One would think (including me) that would have ended the problem altogether and yet it continued to persist.

When I performed the first treatment on this now vacant property, I picked up emergent fleas on my clothing from those newly carpeted rooms. One thing I’m not sure of is if the padding was replaced also, which possibly accounted for many being left behind. Pupated fleas are stimulated to hatch based on vibrations caused by walking on or vacuuming carpeted surfaces. I used an adulticide/larvacide combination in the spray tank and advised the customer to continue to vacuum regularly. There really shouldn’t have been any flea larvae or eggs at this point with no hosts present to continue the cycle in the vacant home which is now for sale.

This should have been a one and done treatment, but a few weeks later I got a call to do a re-treat, because of fleas still being present. So, exactly what is going on here? Is it a failure of the chemical treatment? No, this is unlikely because the chemical will stay active for months in the fibers of the carpet.  Did the customer continue to vacuum regularly after the initial treatment? The owners may not have been vacuuming regularly because they do not live there, but I don’t know the answer to this question.

Low house temperatures can slow down emergence of pupated fleas to the adult stage preventing them from being exposed to the treatment quicker. Since the house is on the market, I think the heat may be being used to make it more comfortable during a showing to potential buyers. Warmth and foot traffic may have been responsible for the emergent fleas leading to the call back. Yes, because of their biology, flea control can be frustrating for homeowners and pest management professionals alike. But, a good adulticide treatment combined with aggressive vacuuming on a regular basis over time will break the cycle.

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