Alongside adulticides applied to your pet, treatments aimed at reducing or removing the eggs and larvae are also essential.
Remember, 95% of the infestation isn’t on your pet, it’s in the house. Eggs, larvae (caterpillars) and pupae (cocoons) can live between floorboards, behind skirting boards, on soft furnishings, in carpets and rugs, and even in curtains.
Let’s take a look at what we can do to get rid of these flea life stages.
Flea sprays and bombs lay down a fine mist of potent insect killer, or something that stops insects from developing normally in their eggs (an ‘insect-growth regulator’ or IGR). This can reduce the length of time you have to treat your pet for from 20 weeks down to just 12, as there are no immature fleas going through the lifecycle.
For many products, a single can covers a 3-bedroom house, and remains active for 6 months. However, these products can be environmentally damaging and potentially toxic to other pets in the house – read the labels and use them safely.
Anything that can be washed at 60C should go into the washing machine. This is especially true of pet beds and blankets, which can host many fleas. Your own bedding should also be washed if your pets spend any time on your bed.
Vacuum your house thoroughly to remove eggs and larvae. While you won’t get every flea this way, you’ll reduce the number making it to adulthood to irritate your pet. In addition, the vibrations caused by the vacuum may trick the adult fleas into emerging from their cocoons, meaning they’re once again able to be killed by flea treatments.
This should ideally be done daily, or every other day as a minimum. Once you’ve vacuumed, throw out the bag to ensure that any developing fleas can’t hatch and make their way back into the house.
Another important signal that gets pupae to hatch is warmth. And heat also speeds up the development of the flea. You might think this is a bad thing, but again we need those adults to leave the safety of their cocoon so that they can be killed by the treatments you’ve put on your pet. Try turning the heating on if it’s winter to encourage them to hatch sooner.
You need to combine household treatments with treating the fleas on your pet, because most of the fleas in an infestation are living in the house. It can take 5 months for a flea to complete its lifecycle, so only using adulticides can be a long, slow process. Using sprays on the house can reduce the waiting time to just 12 weeks. Vacuuming can also help to reduce the sheer number of fleas living and hatching in the house.
Treating the house is essential as it helps reduce the number of immature fleas.