Franklin Vets Blog
The lowdown on fleas
With such a mild winter this year, we are sure to be in for large numbers of fleas and ticks this spring and summer. Dr Nikki Frost, senior Veterinarian at Franklin Vets Pukekohe fills us in on these pesky critters.
Fleas have a very flexible life cycle and will wait until conditions are optimal to move from one stage to another. The warmer and the moister it is, the faster the life cycle will go.
The fleas that you actually see jumping and biting only represent 5% of a flea infestation in a home. Flea eggs make up around 50%, while flea larvae and pupae make up 45%.
A female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day, which means that a single prolific female flea can cause a major infestation in less than two months. In just 60 days, with one female flea at maximum egg production (and assuming that half of the eggs are breeding females), you could have more than 20,000 fleas on your hands. Scary stuff!
Flea eggs aren’t sticky so after being laid on the host, they drop onto the carpet, your pet’s bed, your bed, etc. During the pupae stage, fleas are wrapped in a silken cocoon that’s resistant to insecticides and often spun around the base of the fabric fibres they’re on, making them very difficult to kill or remove.
During a flea infestation, treating your pet isn’t enough. You have to treat the environment too—that’s where the eggs and pupae are hiding. Using flea bombs or foggers will help to kill eggs and larvae in the environment. Vacuuming first helps the pupae to emerge from their cocoon where they are no longer protected from these products.
Fleas can also transmit parasites like tapeworms. When dogs and cats groom fleas off their bodies, they often swallow them. If the flea is carrying tapeworms, they’ll then be released into their intestinal tract.
Nowadays we have a lot of excellent flea control products and some will also do ticks and worms. For advice on which product is best for your pet, talk to your local Franklin Vets team.