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IGRs Used Early Stop Flea Development For Good

By Chris Williams on May 13, 2014.

Fleas IGRQuestion

I heard on your website’s podcast that your company uses an insect growth regulator to treat for fleas. What is that? Is it better than regular pesticides?

Answer

An insect growth regulator, also called an IGR, is used in conjunction with regular pesticides. It’s a chemical that, when applied, affects the growth and development of insects (and only insects). It doesn’t kill the insect outright but instead works slowly, acting as a sort of birth control for the insect. If we only used an IGR, your family and your pets would have to put up with fleas for a while until the adult fleas died and reproduction stopped.

IGRs do not affect adult fleas or larvae that have already pupated and are about to turn into adults. That’s why we use an insecticide along with any IGR application. The insecticide kills adult fleas in your home and the IGR keeps flea eggs from hatching and prevents flea larvae from turning into adult fleas. Any fleas that do become adults are sterile and cannot reproduce. In other words, the IGR prevents the next generation of fleas from ever happening.

There are different IGRs that work in different ways but all disturb the insect’s life cycle in some way by interfering with its hormones. Most affect the growth hormones of the flea, stopping it from pupating and turning into an adult flea. Other types of IGRs stop the insect’s formation of chitin which is the hard material that makes up its cuticle or outside skin. The flea cannot turn into an adult and dies in the final molt.

You Can Use IGRs on Your Pet, Too

There are also IGRs that you, or your veterinarian, can use on your pet to kill fleas. Even though we treat your home, you still need to have your pet treated for fleas. The IGR and the insecticide that we apply to areas in your home will not affect the fleas on your pet.

We like to use IGRs because they provide extra insurance. They remain effective for months, so if our treatment missed any adult fleas (or if you failed to treat your pet), any new eggs laid will not hatch. No new reproductive adult fleas will be produced in the home as long as the IGR remains effective. We are breaking the fleas’ life cycle.

Schedule an Early Flea Treatment with an IGR

The manufacturers of flea IGRs recommend an early season treatment with the growth regulator to stop flea problems before they get started. This preventative treatment can stop the flea cycle early and reduce the need for more IGR, and more insecticides later on.

IGRs are not just used against fleas. We can use insect growth regulators to help control ticks, ants, roaches, bed bugs, and food insects. They’re low-risk insecticides that are relatively non-toxic to people and pets. Insect growth regulators are an important tool in our integrated pest management program.

Photo credit: kc7fys / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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