Fleas are a small (2mm) wingless insect, flattened side to side and reddish-brown in colour. The flea has spines that are pointed backwards and legs that enable it to jump extremely well.
Fleas are a common problem in homes especially for those with cats or dogs. They are also frequently found when moving into a home that previously had pets.
All adult fleas are parasitic on warm-blooded animals. Larval stages live in the nest of the host and feed on skin, feathers and, most importantly, the blood-rich faeces of the adult flea. When fully grown the larvae spin well camouflaged silken cocoons. When fully developed, the adult waits within this until it detects the vibrations caused by a potential host. Only then does it emerge. The complete lifecycle of the flea takes only four weeks in the summer months
The flea bite is usually felt immediately, but it does not particularly hurt. It is the itchiness that results from the body’s reaction that causes discomfort. Different people react differently to a bite, both in terms of degree of reaction and time taken to react.
Flea cocoons can remain dormant for two years or more and are awoken by the vibration of footsteps. It is very common for a flea infestation to remain dormant in an empty home but to awaken when people move in.
Infants are at higher risk from being flea bites particularly when playing on the floor. They also tend to be more sensitive than adults to being bitten by fleas.
While fleas cause humans distress, it is pets who are often much more affected by bites from fleas.
Generally speaking, aerosol sprays offered ‘over the counter’ to control fleas are not effective for very long and it is often far more economic and efficient to use professionals like IDM to deal with the problem effectively.