Even if you don’t have a dog, cat or any other furry pet in the home, you can still have fleas. Often homeowners with flea problems and no pets assume they have some other type of bug and may be using the incorrect treatment and prevention option.
Fleas are particularly problematic because they will feed off of whatever is available, including people and other animals. Rats can carry fleas into your home as can mice. Of course dogs and cats are the most common source for many residences though.
Another common assumption is that flea bites are mistaken for mosquito bites. They are most common around the ankles on adults, but they can occur anywhere on the body. They typically look like small red itchy spots that can swell and even bleed. Usually by the time you notice bites, there is already a significant flea presence.
Flea Control Challenges
Each female flea will lay approximately 200 to 400 eggs. The eggs are often deposited on the host animal, but they are not attached to the hair. This means they will fall off as the animal moves.
The eggs then end up on the floor, in furniture, in animal bedding and even in human bedding. In our warm Florida weather where the humidity is high, these eggs hatch in a few days, or they can stay dormant for weeks. The larvae eat adult flea feces, known as flea dirt, which is the black, sand-like material you may see against the skin of a dog or a cat.
This larvae stage ends when they spin a cocoon and develop, typically another one to two weeks. In this stage, as with eggs, flea control is very difficult because they are naturally protected.
When the adult flea emerges from the cocoon, it will feed. Only about 5% of the total population of fleas is in the adult stage. These can be killed using pesticides that are very effective. Killing just the adults will not be an effective strategy as there are still eggs, larvae and pupae ready to take their place.
Treating dogs and cats or any other furry pets throughout the year is important in Florida. This will prevent new adult fleas from coming in and infesting your home.
There are specific pesticides that can be used in the home as well as on the property. It will also be important to treat potential entrance areas to the home to keep fleas out.
Regular vacuuming, sweeping and laundering of pet bedding will help remove eggs and larvae stages. Steam cleaning of carpets can also be very helpful, but the adult population has to be eliminated and kept out of the home for this to provide control.