Humane Society of
Wayne County, New York

1475 County House Road, Lyons, NY 14489


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More than 25 years of shelter operations

This page was last modified on Sunday November 18, 2012

Those Pesky Fleas

As the grass starts to grow so does the flea population. Can you believe that pet owners will spend an estimated one billion dollars this year controlling fleas?

Fleas are not only annoying but they are also a health hazard to both you and your pet. They can cause medical problems such as skin irritation secondary to a flea allergy, tapeworms, and in extreme infestations anemia (feeding on the blood of a pet). Fleas are also capable of transmitting bubonic plague from rodent to rodent as well as from rodent to human.

An adult is an ugly little creature that has a hard wingless body that measures anywhere from 1/16 to an 1/8 inch in length. They have three pairs of legs with extremely long back legs to enable jumping. A flea can jump horizontally thirteen inches and vertically up to seven inches. Their body is flat like a sunfish to enable it to move between hair, fur or feathers. The life cycle of the flea is egg, larva, pupae, and adult. A flea can live anywhere from two weeks to eight months depending upon the temperature, food supply and species of flea. A female lays anywhere from fifteen to twenty eggs daily this totals about six hundred eggs during her lifetime. The eggs are laid loosely on your pet's fur and drop off anywhere your pet rests. Eggs can be found around the house in carpets, upholstered furniture, your pet's bed, and even in vacuum cleaner bags. Eggs hatch into larva in about two days to two weeks depending upon the conditions. The larva changes into pupa and then matures into an adult flea in about five to fourteen days.

The new adult flea stays dormant until it detects a vibration, heat, noise, or carbon dioxide which indicates that a host or food source is near. Adult fleas cannot survive or lay eggs without a blood meal but can live from two months to a year without feeding. A flea problem will become evident upon returning from a summer vacation. With the house vacant and no pet to feed on, a returning family will be greeted by a waiting hungry horde of fleas.

The way to deal with fleas is to prevent a problem before it starts. There are a many safe and effective commercial flea products on the market. Consult your veterinarian who can advise you on which flea control is right for your pet. Your veterinarian will also teach you how to properly and safely apply the product to your pet.

I don't know about you but I am starting to get itching just writing about fleas. I am going to go call my veterinarian now.