How to Avoid Flea Bites After Your Vacation
By Chris Williams on July 21, 2015.
We get a lot of our flea calls in mid-summer immediately after people have returned from their vacations to an empty house, and they are wishing to avoid flea bites. After three weeks of relaxation, both people and pets are attacked by hungry fleas as soon as they walk in the front door. Some greeting! Since the adult fleas remain on the pet, and the pets weren’t there for those three weeks, how can there be so many fleas in the house?
The Fleas Have Been Lying in Wait
It’s easy to understand how this can happen if you know a little bit about flea biology. The adult fleas do remain on the pet, but the eggs laid by the female flea drop off of the animal, usually ending up in places where the pet rests. When these eggs hatch a few days later, the flea larvae feed on dried feces that has dropped from the adult fleas (it’s really just dried, digested blood). When the larvae are fully developed, they pupate inside a cocoon. When the adult flea emerges from the cocoon, it jumps right onto the nearest passing pet to enjoy a blood meal. Many pet owners aren’t even aware that they have a flea problem when flea numbers remain low.
But, if there are no pets to feed on, the developing adult fleas can remain in their pupal cocoons for an extended period, sometimes for weeks.
These waiting fleas are stimulated to emerge from their cocoons when they detect vibration, carbon dioxide, or heat from bodies, meaning that they now have the opportunity for a blood meal. They’re not all going to end up on the dog. In their desperation, some of the fleas might bite the people instead.
This unique ability of fleas to wait for an animal to feed on also explains how fleas can be present in a vacant house that has had no tenants for months. Of course, the longer you are on vacation, the more fleas may be waiting for you – up to a point. Since there are no adult fleas present to lay more eggs, after a time all of the larvae will have developed.
How Can You Avoid Flea bites After a Vacation?
If you are diligent about treating your pet and your home for fleas, this scenario will probably never happen. If you are not diligent, take the time now, before your trip, to have your home treated for fleas, and make sure your pets are treated, too.
Give us a call at 1-800-525-8084 and we’ll see that you’re scheduled before you leave! A Colonial Pest professional will treat the flea “hot spots” in your home where your pet spends most of its time. While you’re away, any flea larvae that hatch out will be killed by the insecticide treatment before they have a chance to pupate. Your family and your pets will be able to enjoy that vacation afterglow flea-free! If you’re reading this too late, call us anyway. We can eliminate fleas even after your vacation.
For more on the biology and habits of fleas, check out these Colonial Pest blogs:
- What Does a Flea Look Like?
- Where Do Fleas Come From Anyway?
- What Attracts Fleas to My Pets?
- Anatomy of a Flea Bite
Photo credit: Michael Wunderli / Foter / CC BY