Introduction to Fleas
There is no doubt fleas are the number one irritant to pets and cause of visits to the vet. Approx. 5% of pets are allergic to the saliva from the bite of a flea.
One bite is enough to send them off on a mad chewing and scratching attack. It's similar to people who are allergic to bee stings- one sting can causes a very serious allergic reaction.
Did you know…?
- Feral cats, possums, wombats, rabbits, kangaroos, foxes, quolls, bandicoots, rats and other wild animals carry the common flea. If these animals come into the pet’s environment, they act like “salt shakers” depositing hundreds of fleas wherever they go (e.g. under the house, backyard, ceilings)
There are approx. 7.2 million foxes and 12 million feral cats in Australia
- Some yards with wildlife and/or feral cats can't get zero fleas populations outside, but with good flea control will have zero flea numbers inside the house.
- Pet owners can carry fleas into a household on their clothing, so even indoor cats can become flea infested.
- In late summer and autumn, thousands of flea eggs hatch - whether it's the back yard, under the house, or in the paddock your pet likes to roam in.
- Humidity is the primary determining factor of flea populations. If it's below 50%, flea larvae die and the breeding cycle ceases.
- Fleas are terrific breeders and do so all year long. Pet owners can quickly find they are battling a major flea burden. Each flea lays up to 50 eggs a day. In late summer and autumn, when temperature and humidity are just right, it only takes 10 days for an egg to turn into an egg-laying adult.
For each flea seen today, there will be 50 adults in 10 days time
Where Do These Fleas Keep Coming From?
- We regularly see pet owners with flea burdens. These fleas have come from somewhere.
- Fleas seen today come from eggs laid by adult fleas in the last 1-2 months.
- There has to be a flea biomass at home. By biomass, we mean all the flea eggs, larvae and pupae in the pet’s environment. This has built up over some time.
- If you have not been diligent in treating all your pets all year with a flea control product don't be surprised to find you have suddenly become inundated with fleas.
- Starting a flea product at the first sign of fleas on a pet will not solve the problem straight away. They kill the adult fleas that jump on the pet each day from the start of therapy.
- From the biomass come fresh fleas to replace those killed today.
- If the temperature and humidity rise for a few days, a larger number of fresh fleas will arrive from the biomass than would if the weather is cooler and drier. As a result, it is not uncommon to sometimes find more fleas on the pet 3-4 weeks after starting treatment if the weather has suited a better hatch and fasting growth of immature fleas.
These pages have information on fleas and how to beat them.