Flea

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Fleas

Fleas belong to the order Siphonaptera, this name comes from “Siphon”(sucking mouth-part), “a”(without), and “ptera”(wings), referring to their wingless and bloodsucking characteristics. Cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are frequently encountered in homes and are common pests on domestic cats and dogs. Adult fleas are very small insects (up to 1/8 inch), so it is difficult to see a number of the characteristics used to describe them.

These reddish brown to black, wingless insects are compressed from side to side so that they look like they are walking “on edge.” They have piercing-sucking mouthparts through which they obtain blood meals from their hosts. Flea larvae are tiny (up to 3/16 inch long), hairy, and wormlike with a distinct, brownish head, but no eyes or legs.

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Management

Once fleas infest a home, control will require a vigilant program that includes cleaning and treating infested areas indoors, eliminating fleas on pets, and cleaning up and possibly treating shaded outdoor locations where pets rest.

Thoroughly and regularly clean areas where adult fleas, flea larvae, and flea eggs are found. Vacuum floors, rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture, and crevices around baseboards and cabinets daily or every other day to remove flea eggs, larvae, adults, and food sources. Vacuuming is very effective in picking up adults. Flea eggs can survive and develop inside vacuum bags and adults may be able to escape to the outside, so immediately destroy bags by burning or by sealing them in a plastic trash bag and placing them in a covered trash container.

Launder pet bedding in hot, soapy water at least once a week. Thoroughly clean items brought into the building, such as used carpets or upholstered furniture, to prevent these from being a source of flea infestation.