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Sorry Worcester…You Have Fleas!

By Chris Williams on May 6, 2014.

Question

We keep finding fleas in our house, they get on us mostly in the living room. We don’t have any carpet, except for one 5X9 area rug in the living room. I thought fleas lived in carpet, so where are they coming from? We do have a cat. She had fleas last summer but I don’t see any fleas on her now. S. L. Worcester, MA

Answer

I suspect your cat does have fleas. They’re not easy to see, especially on a dark colored pet. They burrow down into the guard hairs when disturbed. You’ve probably noticed your cat scratching more lately. But you should have your vet confirm that your cat is the source of your flea problem.

Fleas don’t just develop in carpets. In fact, the larvae develop wherever the eggs hatch and that is usually in the pet’s resting area. In homes, the pet usually sleeps in the same one or two places on the carpet, or on chairs or sofas, or in its own pet bed or blanket. You need to think about where your pet rests during the day and at night, and that’s where you will find most of your developing fleas.

A Bit About Flea Biology

The adult fleas live almost exclusively on your cat (we call it the “host animal”) where they periodically suck blood. The female flea lays her eggs while on the animal and they fall off randomly to the ground. It makes sense that you will find most of the eggs where the pet spends most of its time. The eggs hatch after a few days and the whitish, wormlike larvae don’t move far from that spot. The larvae feed mostly on feces (poop) from the adult fleas which is mostly digested blood. The feces looks like small, black flecks and also falls off of the animal into the same areas where the larvae are developing. When mature, the larvae pupate in small hidden cocoons, later emerging as adult fleas.

Look for the Salt and Pepper

Another way to find out whether your cat has fleas is to inspect her resting places for what looks like a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Check the rug, the sofa, your bed, wherever she sleeps. If you look more closely with a magnifier, you will see that the white “salt” is really flea eggs, shed larval skins, and maybe live larvae. The “pepper” is the black feces that has fallen from the fleas into the resting area. You’ve found the flea hot spots. These are the sites that need special attention.

As you can imagine, frequent vacuuming of these areas will remove some of the eggs, larvae, and flea feces. Frequent washing of your cat’s bedding will also help. But to effectively get rid of your fleas, you need to undertake a 3-part flea control program.

  1. Have your pet treated for fleas by your veterinarian.
  2. Have an exterminator treat the flea hot spots in your home to kill the larval fleas before they turn into adult fleas.
  3. If your cat goes outside, have the exterminator inspect your yard as well for developing fleas. You may also need an outside treatment to prevent reinfestation.

It’s important to have both your pet and your home treated or one will reinfest the other. Give Colonial a call today. Our trained technicians can help you check for evidence of fleas and will set up a flea management program for your home.

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