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Flea Facts Part I Life Cycle

Flea Control is especially difficult here in Florida. This is partly because Florida’s sub-tropical environment is ideal for the flea life cycle. It’s also partly due to flea’s increasing resistance to many older flea preventatives. An effective flea prevention program requires you, as pet parent, to have detailed understanding of flea facts.

  1. Don’t be fooled by not seeing any or only 1~2 adult fleas on your pet. Adult fleas represent only 1%, at most, of fleas in your pets environment. Eggs comprise 57%, larvae comprise 34 % and pupae {in cocoons} comprise the balance at 8%. Assuming you don’t have a flea problem because you don’t see any on your pet is never reliable. Frequent scratching, signs of being itchy or seemingly uncomfortable in your pet’s own skin is a more reliable indicator of a flea problem than seeing or finding adult fleas. Trust your Vet if they tell you there is a flea problem even though you may not be seeing any or only a few fleas.

  2. The flea life cycle is 14~56 days depending on temperature and humidity. A temperature of up to 95°F and humidity of 70% is ideal. In Florida’s ideal flea growing conditions, that’s a completely new crop of fleas every two weeks.

  3. Under our sub-tropical conditions, eggs can hatch in as little as one day. The larval stage can be as short as 4 days. Larvae feed on environmental debris and adult flea feces. Metamorphosis of the pupae to pre-emerged adult flea can be as little as a week. Adults emerge when they feel vibrations, carbon dioxide levels and heat generated by a suitable host. This occurs when your pet is sleeping or laying down on bedding, rugs or shady ground which have adult flea cocoons. Mating and egg production begins 24 to 48 hours after a flea’s first blood meal. Females can lay 40 to 50 eggs per day. Females typically lay 4~5 eggs at a time after each blood meal. A female flea on your pet feeds as often as every 2 hours.

  4. Flea eggs are not sticky and most of them will fall off and be randomly scattered. After hatching, the larvae seek shaded locations such as bedding, carpets, soil, cracks etc. On bare floors, larvae will seek cracks between boards, between floors and baseboard molding etc. Don’t assume you can’t have fleas even if all your floors are tile floors. Any shady ground level crack will do to provide safe areas for eggs to hatch and larvae to feed and grow.

  5. Pre-emerge adult fleas can survive up to 210 days in the cocoon. Fleas in cocoons are protected from most insecticides. That’s more than 6 months which is longer than the breakdown time of nearly all of the typically available insecticides. In other words, pupae can outlast most room and house fogging treatments. For this reason, flea preventatives concentrate on killing the active adult fleas or preventing the eggs from hatching. Pre-emerge adult fleas in cocoons can only be reliably killed by washing bedding in water hotter than 95°F. It’s not practical to wash anything else nor your yard in water that hotter than 95°F.

  6. Newly emerged fleas can survive up to 12 days in a moist {humid} environment without a blood meal.

  7. Finally, an adult flea can live as long as one and one half years. Under ideal conditions, a single female flea feeding 10 times a day and laying 4 eggs after every meal can lay 16,000 eggs over the course of 400 days. That’s a lot of eggs. That’s a lot of blood meals off your pet.

Effective flea prevention and control is essential for Fido’s and Felicia’s health

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