Fleas and their Control
Fleas are very tiny, laterally-flattened, parasitic insects. There are several species and subspecies of fleas, most of which are named for their preferred hosts (for example: "dog flea," "cat flea," and so forth). But most flea species will readily feed on other warm-blooded animals if their preferred host is unavailable; so it's quite possible that the fleas that are biting your dog (or you!) are actually cat fleas. Fleas aren't very picky.
A lot of people consider fleas to be a mere nuisance -- simply a part of owning a pet. But fleas are actually among the most important public health pests, and have been implemented in countless deaths throughout history. Consider the following:
- Fleas transmit the bacterium Yersinia pestis from rats to humans. They are required vectors for the transmission of bubonic plague, which caused the deaths of as many as 25 million people during the 14th Century.
- Fleas transmit murine typhus.
- Fleas are required hosts to a stage of Dipylidium caninum, or tapeworms, as they are more commonly known. Dogs, cats, other pets, or humans who accidentally swallow an infected flea (for example, while playing with a pet who has fleas) can develop a tapeworm infection.
- Fleas can cause painful rashes, especially in sensitive individuals. These rashes may become infected when the affected individual scratches them.
Clearly, fleas are more than a nuisance. They are a health menace that have no place in our homes and require the skills of a professional exterminator to eradicate.
Effective Flea Control
In fact, flea control is considered by most exterminators to be among the most challenging pest control jobs. Their tiny size allows them to hide in the smallest cracks and crevices. They also are able to hitchhike on pets (or people), thus spreading an infestation throughout an entire home. Finally, fleas are hardy insects that have developed resistance to many products used to control them.
In short, effective flea control requires a combination of a skilled pest control operator, the right application equipment, and state-of-the-art pest control products. Flea control is not a job for do-it-yourselfers.
Preparing Your Home for a Flea Control Treatment
More so than most other types of pest control, effective flea extermination requires a high level of cooperation from the consumer. Without customer cooperation, the chances of a successful flea control job go way down. So before the technician arrives, please be sure to:
- Strip the beds and remove slipcovers from furniture. Wash them in detergent and the hottest water that the fabrics can stand. This also goes for slipcovers and pet beds.
- Thoroughly vacuum the carpets, upholstered furniture, etc. If you've been thinking about getting them shampooed or steam-cleaned, this would be a good time to do it. (Just make sure to allow sufficient time for them to be completely dried before the treatment.)
- As much as possible, remove all movable items from the floor to give our technician as unobstructed access as possible to the floors and carpeting.
- Make an appointment to have your pets treated for fleas by a veterinarian or a professional pet groomer at the same time that we will be treating your home.
- You will need to be out of the house for a few hours after after the treatment to allow any insecticides used to thoroughly dry. So make plans to find something to do. Go see a movie, maybe.