How to Identify Signs of Fleas
Your cat or dog looks to be in some discomfort and is constantly scratching or biting their fur. Is it a skin infection or could it be fleas feeding? But what do fleas look like? Before you take your pet to the vet there are a couple of ways to check if you have fleas in the home.
Signs of Fleas
- Can you see fleas crawling on your pet’s coat? They are normally reddish-brown and about 2mm long.
- Check the hind-quarters of your dog or the head and neck of your cat. These are the areas that are targeted and where you might see signs of flea activity.
- Carefully look at your pet’s skin for fine black droppings. This is ‘flea dirt’ or adult flea faeces and looks like ground black pepper. A good way to spot it is to use a flea comb over a sheet of white paper, which makes it easier to see the small black specks.
- Another sign of a problem is flea dirt on pet bedding, carpets or rugs.
Looking for Flea Eggs
Sometimes it’s easy to think you’ve got rid of the fleas in your home when you haven’t. This is because flea eggs are very difficult to spot.
Fleas will lay their eggs on your pet’s body. But they won’t stay there. Eggs easily fall off and can become hidden in carpets, rugs, bedding or gaps between floorboards. Flea eggs are tiny (only about 0.5mm long), oval and white. This makes them almost impossible to see against rough surfaces and materials.
Need help with treating fleas?
If fleas keep coming back, or you want to make sure they are eliminated first time, just get in touch with our experts.
The very thought of fleas in the home is enough to make most people’s skin crawl, but it can happen through no fault of your own. Pets can pick up fleas from other animals or places and give them a ride home. Once they arrive, you’ll want to get rid of them fast.
Tips on Getting Rid of Fleas
There are several things you can do to get rid of fleas if you catch the problem early enough. Here’s our to-do list for a flea-free home:
- Before you do anything else vacuum carpets, furnishings, cracks in the floorboards and upholstered furniture. This will not only get rid of adult fleas, but also their eggs and larvae. The larvae feed on adult flea faeces and other organic matter, which collects in things like carpets and rugs. Removing this source of food is an important step.
- Empty your vacuum cleaner very carefully away from the house because the fleas will still be alive.
- Groom your pets regularly with a flea comb and wash their beds every week (ideally at 50°c or above).
- If your pet is scratching or biting its fur you should talk to your vet. They can recommend the best flea sprays or powders to use to treat your pet.
If the fleas keep coming back, or you want to ensure complete removal, just contact our experts.
Our expert, local Technicians know exactly what to do when it comes to getting rid of fleas in your home. They understand the habits of different types of flea and can offer the most appropriate and effective solution. It goes without saying that all our treatments are safe for your family and pets.
While flea bites on people can cause distress, your pets often suffer much more. You may notice your dog or cat scratch frantically trying to bite the fleas in their fur.
A flea bite is not particularly painful, but you will often be aware as soon as you have been bitten. You may develop some itchiness around the bite though, which could become uncomfortable, depending on your sensitivity.
How to Identify Flea Bites
What do flea bites look like? Given their small size, flea bites often appear as tiny red spots on the skin.
As with other insect bites, it is often difficult to identify fleas just by looking at your bites.
You should consider other factors, which may help to identify your insect problem.
- How to find bites? – Look for tiny dark spots, surrounded by a reddened area with much less swelling around the bite than with other insect bites.
- Where do bites occur? – Common areas to receive flea bites are on feet or lower legs. Cat or dog fleas will jump from pets, carpets, bedding or furnishings to feed.
- Immediate awareness – A flea bite is usually felt immediately, with a single flea often biting two or three times in the same area.
- No initial pain – The actual bite does not really hurt. It is the itchiness that results from the body’s reaction that causes the discomfort.
- Who is at risk? – Infants are at a higher risk from being bitten by fleas, particularly when playing on the floor, especially carpeted areas and or on rugs. Children also tend to be more sensitive than adults to being bitten.
You should consult a pharmacist for advice and treatment if you develop an itchy rash or eczema. These are common symptoms of an allergic reaction to flea bites.
We also advise you to consult your vet if there are any signs of irritation such as reddening of the skin or there are any thin patches in your pet’s coat.
Are you worried about bites?
Using professional products, our expert technicians can help to quickly get rid of fleas, whilst ensuring the safety of your family and pets.
Preventing Flea Problems
Nobody wants an infestation of these nasty little creatures. The best way to prevent fleas is to take some simple precautions.
Pets are the main source of fleas in the home.
Flea Prevention Tips
- Vacuum regularly.
- Wash pet bedding weekly, ideally at above 50°C.
- Other wildlife such as wild cats, foxes, rabbits and rodents also carry fleas – when your pets are outside they can easily pick up these fleas and bring them back, so check them regularly using flea combs.
- Larvae feed on organic matter in carpets, bedding & furnishings. You need to try and remove any potential food supply to prevent fleas.
- When moving into a new home inspect carpets and flooring carefully for signs of eggs or ‘flea dirt’. If the previous owners had pets the flea larvae might be waiting for you.
FACT: After feeding, a female cat flea can lay between 25 and 40 eggs a day, in the fur of the host or its bedding. A single female cat flea can produce up to 2,000 eggs in a life time.
- How to recognise the tell-tale signs of fleas
- Find out the best way to get rid of fleas
The Trouble with Fleas are…
- Flea cocoons can remain dormant for two years. They only hatch when conditions are right
- Flea eggs are tiny (approx. 0.5mm long), oval and white. They are almost impossible to see against rough surfaces like carpets, rugs and pet bedding
- A flea’s lifecycle can be anything from two weeks to about eight months
- Fleas can breed quickly. This makes it difficult to prevent fleas completely without professional help
Our expert, local certified technicians know exactly what to do when it comes to getting rid of fleas. They understand the habits of different types of flea and can offer the most appropriate and effective solution. It goes without saying that all treatments used are safe for your family and your pets.
Why use Experts from Azalia Pest Services?
If you have a flea problem you can’t get on top of you can get in touch with us for a fast, effective solution.
Common Flea Species
There are many species of fleas but in Kenya it is cat and dog fleas that cause most problems.
The main concern about fleas is usually the distress and discomfort that flea bites may cause you or your beloved pet.
Cat fleas are often unable to determine whether a host is suitable until it has been bitten. If it is deemed unsuitable, the flea soon drops off.
- Cat fleas are 3mm long wingless ticks, flattened from side to side with long legs enabling them to jump.
- They have both genal and pronotal combs (ctenidia), differentiating them from most other fleas of domestic animals.
- Fleas pass through four stages: eggs, larva, pupa, adult. The eggs are small and white. These stages combined vary from two weeks to eight months.
- The adult flea is awakened by the detection of vibration of pet or human movement, pressure, heat, noise, or carbon dioxide for potential blood meals.
- A cat flea cannot complete its life–cycle feeding only on human blood.
- Cat fleas nest where the host is in its usual resting place, for example the cat basket. This is where the young often drop to mature.
Adult Dog fleas feed on the blood of dogs and cats, and they occasionally bite humans.
It is a vector of the Dog Tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum, which can also affect humans.
- Adult is brownish black in colour, but appear reddish–black after a blood meal.
- Adult dog fleas are 1 to 4 mm long. The legless larva is off–white and measures up to 5 mm long.
- The fleas go through a four–stage life cycle: eggs, larvae, pupae, adult.
- The larvae are longer than the adults and feed on particles of dry blood, excrement, and organic substances.
- The body is laterally flattened, which allows it to move easily through an animal’s fur. Spines project backwards from the body of the flea, which help it to hold onto the host animal during grooming.
- As they can jump approximately 15cm, they can move from host to host. They can also infest garden lawns.
Bird fleas can multiply enormously in hen houses, breeders, batteries and other similar environments.
- Adult fleas are generally brownish in colour, and 0.8mm – 8mm long.
- The eyes as well as the antennae are apparent. Their mouthparts are well adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood and project downwards from the head.
- This species is the most common bird flea, the hen flea.
- Bird fleas can only live for a short time indoors and only in nests.
- They breed during the nesting period when the host and/or young are available for regular blood meals.
- Adult bird fleas live in bird nests. When the birds move from the nest, the adult fleas must find a new host.
- If the nest is reused, the pupae will hatch, mate and continue the breeding cycle.
- Bird fleas can multiply enormously in hen houses, breeders, batteries etc.
- 0.4mm long.
- Soft yellow/green body and eight legs.
- When fully fed the body appears bright red.
- Egg to adult in 7 days (under favourable conditions).
- Adult lives approximately 90 days.
- Feed on birds blood.
- Favours warm, moist conditions.
- Common in birds nests and poultry houses.
- Capable of reducing bird egg–laying efficiency. In severe cases it may kill young, sick or old birds.
- In homes, bird mites may bite people in search of food.
Brown Dog Tick
- Reddish–brown colour.
- Elongated body shape.
- The dog tick is a 3–host tick, so must change host between the 3 stages of growth (larva, nymph and adult).
- They require only three blood meals to complete development; once at each growth stage.
- It is found on dogs, in kennels and houses, and occasionally on wildlife, but rarely on humans.
- In warm areas several generations of tick can be expected per year.
- The most common places for attachment on dogs are those areas the animal is unable to groom easily.
- Soft tick approximately 4.8mm long.
- The mouthparts are ventrally located and are covered by the front margin of the body so they are not visible from above.
- Bodies lack a scutum (a hard thickened plate) and the skin appears wrinkled and leather–like.
- The females feed at intervals, increasing their body weight by up to three times, then laying globular, dark brown shiny eggs in batches of 20 – 50.
- The larvae feed on the hosts for six to eleven days although the nymphs and adults only feed for up to 12 hours.
- Pigeons are the principal host but other bird species may also be fed upon. Humans may also be bitten.
- The ticks feed at night and hide by day.
- They are commonly found in attics and rooms adjacent to areas where pigeons roost.
- Heavy infestations of these ticks can cause the death of the host pigeon.
- These miniature creatures are only 0.1-2.0mm in length, and at adult stage have 4 pairs of legs.
- Mouth parts may be piercing and sucking.
- The Scabies Mite only lives for around 4-6 weeks.
- The mite goes through the following phases: egg, larva, nymph and adult.
- The female lays her eggs close to the skin and the young bore into the skin.
- Mites mine in the upper epidermis of skin.
- The mite is conveyed by contact and from infected clothing.