Ctenocephalides felis

There are about 60 different species of flea in Britain. All species are parasites (i.e. they need a host animal to live off). Many of these are associated with particular animals, so the dog flea, cat flea, and bird flea are all slightly different species. The human flea is very rare, but unfortunately although the different species of flea prefer to feed on their specific host, they will bite other hosts if they are hungry enough. Most of the flea infestations found in houses and on people are cat fleas.

Although still common, fleas have problems living in modern houses, as they like a little humidity, and undisturbed surroundings. Central heating, vacuum cleaners and regular washing of bedding in washing machines all make life more difficult for the flea than in previous centuries. Although during an infestation of fleas you will often find them on pets, or may see one on your clothing, these fleas are only moving out from their living areas to feed. They do not live on the host animal all the time.

Life Cycle
The life cycle starts with a female flea laying eggs. These eggs are not usually found on the animal but are on the floor or in the animals bedding area. The eggs hatch into larvae within 2 or 3 days and feed on any debris they can find in the cracks of floorboards and around areas where cats, dogs or birds have their regular bedding or resting places. After about 3 – 4 weeks the larvae spin a silk cocoon and inside this cocoon they turn into the adult flea. The adult flea needs some passing vibration to stimulate it to leave the cocoon. This may happen within a few days in an occupied house, but where the house is unoccupied; the fleas may remain dormant for many months. This is why entering an empty house or shed may result in a sudden and large number of flea bites, as the fleas are starving and will bite at anything.

A more normal situation is where a single flea is brought into the house by a domestic pet and the infestation then builds up until it is suddenly noticed. To complete the life cycle, the flea has to have a drink of host blood before it can lay breed and lay fertile eggs. An adult flea is a tiny insect around the size of a pin head and dark brown in colour. Though you may see these adults it is important to realise that killing the odd flea seen jumping or only treating pet animals even with professional products will not bring the infestation under control. The answer is to have a full survey and treatment of the whole house and any affected areas. If you have any pets, particularly cats and dogs they must be treated with an approved flea treatment in tandem with any other premises treatment that is being considered. Your veterinary surgeon will be able to advise you on the best pet treatments on offer.

Should you choose a premises treatment it is important to use a professional pest control operator to carry out the treatment; they have access to a range of insecticides which are far more effective than those on sale to the general public and they have the training and knowledge to ensure that a thorough and effective job is done. A professional treatment remains effective for several weeks and will kill all larvae and adult fleas that come into contact with it. After the insecticide wears away; there is always the risk that a pet animal could bring more fleas into the house, so be vigilant when taking pets for walks or even visiting other houses. Remember that it only takes one egg-bound female flea entering your premises to start the whole cycle off again.

Flea Treatments
1/ Our service is to attend and inspect your home for fleas and to treat affected rooms with an insecticidal spray if it is safe to do so. Please note that this may not result in eradication of the insects. You and you your family and pet animals must vacate the property during the treatment and remain outside treated areas for at least two hours until the spray dries.

2/ Our fee depends on the number of rooms affected. If more rooms are affected than are paid for, you can either pay for the additional rooms or cancel the treatment, in which case you will be charged a nominal for the call out.

3/ To minimise customer inconvenience, we undertake spray treatments between 10.00am and 4.00pm however unfortunately we cannot offer more specific timed appointments.

4/ We are only permitted to apply insecticides if the pest is confirmed as present. Occasionally where there are no obvious signs, we may need to lay monitor traps and return to check at a future date to confirm if an infestation is present. Our fixed treatment fee covers this work, but you will have to pay again if a treatment is then required following this.

5/ We appreciate how unpleasant a flea problem is and that now that you have contacted us, you will be anxious to have your home treated as soon as possible. However, before you book an appointment, please ensure you have allowed time to prepare your property and will be present when we call to avoid the disappointment and distress caused if you miss our visit or our technician is forced to decline to treat due to inadequate preparation. We are required to make a nominal call out charge in both such cases to help cover our costs.

6/ Thankfully when all required pre and post treatment instructions are followed, flea treatments have a high success rate and re-treatments are rarely required unless you have a heavy infestation that has been present for a considerable time.

7/ You will need to follow these pre and post treatment instructions:

a. All furniture in rooms to be treated must be moved back from the walls – we cannot do this for you and you must do it before we arrive on site. b. All carpets vacuumed and any belongings cleared from the floor.

c. All electrical equipment un-plugged in rooms to be treated.

d. Any pet dogs or cats must also be treated for fleas, we recommend you consult with your vet on this.

e. You must not vacuum for 14 days following treatment and your property must be used as normal during this time, to provide a natural environment for the insects to feed on and come into contact with the treatment.

8/ If you need to arrange assistance from family, friends or social services to help you prepare your property, please ensure this is in place before making a booking.

9/ For our treatments to work, all affected rooms must be used as normal. This is to provide a natural environment for the insects to feed on and come into contact with the treatment. Treatment usually takes approximately 14 days but it can take longer. On rare occasions where additional visits are required for whatever reason, a further course of chargeable treatment, where fees apply, may be offered.