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January 20, 2020 4 min read
Everyone has a home; fleas should have a home too. Fleas are tiny insects that attack pets and humans alike but have to have a place where they can call home. So where do fleas live?
Fleas are tiny, dark-colored blood-sucking parasites. They do not have wings and can reach up to 4 mm in length. Their bodies are flat and oval-shaped; they have powerful legs that can make them jump over distances of over 33 cm long.
Fleas feed on mammals and birds. They have well developed tube-like-mouth parts for feeding on the blood of whatever host they attach themselves onto. Fleas bite humans, but their host of choice includes pets such as dogs and cats. Their saliva makes it difficult to detect bites on your pets quickly; this saliva later causes itching and severe scratching. Adult fleas identify their hosts by detecting hosts’ movement and warmth.
Fleas live on their host, without the host fleas can only survive a few days before dying off.
Fleas are survivors. They survive because of their ability to go undetected. Before latching onto their hosts, fleas will remain in hiding in outdoor environments. They will stay in grasses; hide under lawns because of their incredibly tiny size. Fleas live in shady areas: sands, sheds, debris underneath woodpiles, places where the environment is moist, and light is scarce.
When your pets go for a walk or play, fleas latch onto them. After getting a host, flea lives permanently on their host until they are forced off. Fleas hardly change host – this is because after living on a particular host’s blood for a few days, they develop a dependency on that particular type of blood. Fleas feed at least once every 12 hours, without the blood, they have adjusted to, they might die in 4 days.
Depending on the stage of development, fleas live in different areas of the home. Adult fleas would spend all their time on the host body, but the same cannot be said of eggs. The flea life cycle is made up of four stages: Eggs- larvae- pupae- adult.
Flea Eggs: Female fleas lay eggs on the fur of pets. These eggs are not adhesive and do not stick; the eggs fall off. Eggs fall off bedding, furniture, carpeting, and anywhere pet strays in the home.
Flea Larvae: Eggs hatch into larvae. Flea larvae are blind and will hide in shady regions of the house. Flea larvae in dark, narrow dusty spaces that protect them; they are usually immature and feed off the organic and fecal waste.
Flea Pupae: They live in-between carpet fibers.
Flea Adult: Adults live in the fur of their host.
Most of the fleas on your dog and cat will be found around the neck, ears and underbelly areas of the body. These areas are impossible to reach for your pets, making them the perfect homes for fleas.
Furniture: you are not likely to see an adult flea on your couch, but there might be eggs lurking around. Your pets spend a good amount of time lounging on your couch. If your pet is infested, it will drop off flea eggs on your couch. Eggs will become larvae, and your couch will be their home.
Clothes: the likelihood of fleas living on you or your clothes is slim. But eggs and, larvae and pupae might hide out in your thick or dirty clothes. This is very unlikely but possible.
Around lamps: flea larvae are blind and very sensitive to light; it hides in dark places. Adult fleas have more developed eyes, but when compared to other animals, their eyes aren’t so developed. Adult fleas can detect fluctuations in light and are attracted to light and heat sources.
Everything that has a beginning has an end. Adult fleas will live for about 1-2 weeks in the right environment. Without a host, an adult flea will not survive for so long. The most conducive environment for adult fleas to thrive is hot and humid; if it is too cold, adult fleas will freeze to death.
Now that you are sure of where fleas live, you can attack them where they are.
Clean pet items: eggs will land on pet bedding, covers and pillows. Wash bedding in warm soapy water and leave to dry under high temperatures.
Give your pet a bath: wash your pet in lukewarm water mixed with flea shampoo. Dry off your pet with a clean towel.
Flea comb: A flea comb’s teeth are specially designed to trap fleas. Comb through your pet’s fur to remove remaining fleas on your pets’ body.
Vacuuming: Deep vacuuming your carpeting and other areas of your home is a very good way to combat your fleas. The force from the vacuum sucks up flea eggs wherever they may be hiding.
Fleas abound in secrecy; they thrive you didn’t know where they live. But now that you know where fleas live, you can attack them in their homes.
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