Vacuuming Won’t Control Fleas

By Chris Williams on January 19, 2012.

Q. We have a flea problem in our home. It’s not too bad and I’m debating whether to have a pest control company treat or not. Seems to me that treating the dog and lots of thorough vacuuming should control the problem without pesticides.

A. Since we know that flea larvae and eggs are found in carpeting in pet resting areas, vacuuming to get rid of fleas seems to make sense. But research shows that standard vacuuming really removes only some of the flea eggs and very few larvae. When the larvae are disturbed by vacuuming, they tend to coil themselves tightly around the carpet fibers. The thicker the carpet pile, the fewer eggs and larvae are removed. And, vacuuming doesn’t affect flea pupae at all since their cocoons are attached to carpet fibers.

While standard vacuuming may not remove many flea larvae, a vacuum equipped with a beater bar or an industrial professional vacuum does much better. Some pest control technicians even use a professional vacuum as part of their flea service. Steam cleaning of carpeting and upholstery is better yet. The heat from the steam will kill flea larvae, eggs, and even fleas in cocoons.

vaccuumTreating your dog, or having a vet treat it, is certainly the first step in flea management. But it is almost impossible to get rid of a flea infestation without professional help. That help doesn’t have to be pesticides. There are insect growth regulators that can be applied that interfere with the flea’s ability to molt and reproduce. Flea control is slower this way since fleas that are already in the adult biting stage are not affected by an insect growth regulator.

While vacuuming isn’t going to get rid of your flea problem, vacuuming before you have a pest control company treat for fleas can be very effective for the following reasons:

1) Vacuuming triggers flea emergence – Developed fleas can remain inside the cocoon in the carpet for months, protected from pesticides. One of the things that gets them to emerge from the cocoon is vibration, which to a flea means that there is an animal (= food) nearby. The vibration and pressure from vacuuming can trigger fleas to leave the cocoon where they are more vulnerable to pesticide application.

2) Vacuuming removes adult flea feces – This feces is mostly dried blood and is the main food source for the larvae. Eliminating their food source will make larval development more difficult.

3) Vacuuming fluffs up the carpeting and straightens out the nap – This accomplishes two things: it means fewer places for the flea larvae to hide and it means better penetration into the carpet of pesticide or growth regulator spray.

4) Vacuuming before treatment means you won’t feel the need to vacuum right after treatment – We don’t want you to vacuum too soon after our visit. Vacuuming can remove pesticide residues in the carpet that are working to kill flea larvae.

Give Colonial a call. We can work with you to eliminate your flea problem with the least amount of disruption and the least amount of pesticide. Our targeted application means that only the flea “hot spots” are treated.



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