WILL VACUUMING KILL FLEAS?
By Chris Williams on February 19, 2018.
Flea control is a complex issue since we are dealing with two different life stages, adult and larva, that live in two completely different environments. Adult fleas live almost exclusively on your pet. They don’t leave the animal so vacuuming your home won’t affect the adult fleas at all.
VACUUMING TARGETS FLEA EGGS AND LARVAE
The wormlike flea larvae, however, live off of the animal but often in the animal’s bedding or resting areas (see What Do Baby Fleas Look Like?). This is because when the female flea lays eggs, they fall off of your pet. Most of the tiny, white eggs will end up wherever your pet spends its time. This could be in the pet’s bed, maybe on your bed, on the sofa, on the carpet in that one spot where the sunbeam hits, or more likely, in all of the above. When the eggs hatch, whitish, wormlike larvae develop and remain in the same spot, feeding on the poop (mostly digested blood) that drops from adult fleas.
Customers ask whether they can get rid of fleas with very thorough vacuuming. That’s very unlikely, for several reasons. You probably won’t be able to find and vacuum all of the eggs and larvae, you probably won’t vacuum often enough, and more importantly, even thorough vacuuming won’t remove most of the larvae. In carpeting, flea larvae work their way down into the pile and even wrap themselves around the carpet loops. The deeper the pile of a carpet, the less likely that you will remove flea larvae or flea pupae with a vacuum. One recent study found that vacuuming removed 40-80% of flea eggs in carpets, but only 5% of flea larvae.
VACUUMING HAS LIMITED USES IN FLEA CONTROL
While vacuuming may not eliminate many flea larvae, it can remove the adult fleas’ feces which the larvae feed on and vacuuming carpeting before an insecticide application can help lift up the nap for better penetration. Use a beater bar attachment on your vacuum if you have one. Don’t vacuum soon after an insecticide application though as you will remove some of the necessary residue from the carpeting.
Of course not all developing fleas are in carpeting. Vacuuming of bare floors would probably have a better success rate and vacuuming and washing of pet bedding will help remove developing fleas, eggs, and feces (see How to Get Rid of Fleas in Your Pet’s Bedding).
FOR FLEAS: TREAT THE PET, TREAT THE HOME
Successful flea control has to include the killing of fleas on the pet which today’s on-animal treatments do quite well. But if immature fleas off of the pet are not also killed, they could turn into adult fleas that can then re-infest your pet or even attempt to feed on the humans in your home instead. Generally, a professional insecticide treatment of the flea hot spots in your home, along with treatment of your pet, will solve your flea problem. At Colonial, we like to use an insect growth regulator for added control. Mixed with the insecticide, the IGR prevents flea larvae from turning into adult fleas (See Insect Growth Regulators Mean Longer Flea Control).
If you have a flea problem, thorough vacuuming won’t hurt but don’t expect it to be the answer. Give Colonial Pest a call and opt for a complete flea control program that guarantees results.