flea-1Adult fleas are classed as parasites, living off warm-blooded animals. Different species of flea live on different animals. Cat fleas are approximately 2-3mm size, brownish in colour, and are responsible for the majority of flea infestations.

Fleas have increased in numbers in recent years, which has been caused by an increase in the number of people keeping pets and by the tendency for pet owners to neglect cleaning their pet's bedding properly.

Central heating can provide the necessary warmth needed for fleas to breed and carpets can provide relatively undisturbed environments for flea larvae to develop.

Flea bites appear as a tiny dark red spot surrounded by a reddened area which can be intensely irritating and usually persists for one or two days.

Life cycle

Flea eggs are about 0.5mm long, pearly-white in colour and are laid on the pet or in its bedding. 4-8 eggs are laid after each the flea feeds, and therefore a single female can produce between 800-1000 eggs during her lifetime - which may be as long as two years.

The eggs hatch in about 1 week into larvae which live in dark, humid places such as animal bedding and carpet fluff, feeding on debris and adult flea excrement. At worst, a cat's bedding can support up to 8000 immature and 2000 adult fleas.

After 2-3 weeks, the larvae spin cocoons and pupate and may spend winter in this state. The adult flea will then be stimulated to emerge by the vibrations set up by a passing host. Development from egg to adult is normally completed in 4 weeks but at low temperatures will take much longer.

Home treatment

Regular cleaning denies fleas breeding sites and significantly contributes to their control when you thoroughly clean your entire home, removing debris from all cracks and crevices.

Pets such as cats or dogs should be treated using veterinary products, which can be obtained from a local vet. Always make sure you read and follow the instructions on the product label carefully. Pets' bedding must also be thoroughly cleaned and washed.

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