Fleas….perhaps the most annoying blood-sucking pest a dog can have! Since, we are coming into the optimal flea season (temperatures between 70 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit) I thought it would be a good idea to share some info about fleas. You know the old saying about keep your friends close and your enemies closer!
The flea has a life cycle consisting of four (4) stages – eggs, larva, pupa and adult. Once we understand their life cycle we can better understand how to eradicate them!
EGG STAGE – Flea eggs are small white objects – a little smaller than a grain of sand. One female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day…that was one female flea, so imagine how many eggs you could have when you have tens or hundreds of female fleas. These eggs can hatch in as little as 2 days or as long as 2 weeks depending on the temperatures of the environment. So….this is an important stage to stop the cycle!
LARVA STAGE – The larvae are white but almost see thru and are roughly 1/4 inch long. They are blind but that does not stop them from feeding on flea dirt (basically flea poop that has undigested blood) and creating a cocoon within 5 to 20 days of hatching….which brings us to the next stage.
PUPA STAGE – Here is the bad news….their pupas are protective and have a sticky outer coating so they can “stick” to the carpets or other surfaces and may not be removed with sweeping. Plus the cocoon protects the emerging flea from chemicals. If that wasn’t bad enough, the emerging flea can survive in the cocoon for several months to even years but in optimal conditions can emerge in as little as 3 days! Oh vey…no wonder we hate fleas so much and they are so hard to get rid of! We obviously do NOT want the emerging fleas to enter this stage so it’s important to knock them out before they make it to the pupa stage.
ADULT STAGE – Once they emerge from their protective cocoon….they begin to feed on the blood of your beloved pet, breed and the females can begin laying eggs in a matter of days….and so the cycle continues. Oh…did I mention that they can jump?!
So…to sum it up in a perfect environment the flea cycle is complete in as little as 12 days (2 days in egg stage, 5 days in larva stage, 3 days in pupa stage and 2 days to lay eggs again). But, fleas can also survive in the pupa stage for several years so that is quite a span of time…..best to take them out before they make it to the pupa stage!
BEST WAYS TO ERADICATE FLEAS:
- Vacuum DAILY for several weeks
- Eggs hatch anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks and there could be hundreds of them!
- Don’t forget under furniture and cushions
- Dispose of vacuum bags or empty vacuum canisters frequently – in a trash bag in in the outside trash can!
- Wash bedding and any washable toys in HOT water
- Use a good flea and tick medication – ask your vet what they recommend
- Don’t forget to treat the dog’s favorite spot in the yard – diatomaceous earth should do the trick
- Use an all natural flea shampoo according to directions or consult your dog groomer for assistance