Realistic approach to dealing with pet flea problems

EVERY few years scientists come up with a new insecticide for flea control which works "like magic".

The fleas don't know what's hit them as the new product kills so fast and furiously that we become complacent about our approach.

Inevitably the fleas return and over time the miracle product becomes something less than miraculous.

Products which kill adult fleas are called adulticides, and these tend to be perceived by pet owners to be the mainstay of flea treatment, if not the only treatment.

"Can you please just give me the silver bullet; just keep it easy and simple?" is not the right question to be asking.

This approach is doomed to failure by the nature of the flea's life history.

You can't fight biology! Once you understand the biology then you can beat them with the right measures, some arithmetic and a calendar.

For starters there's the "flea development window".

Adult female fleas lay 20-50 eggs per day that fall off the animal into the environment, such as the house, car and yard.

The eggs hatch in 1-10 days to become larvae. The larvae then pupate in 5-11 days.

Fleas emerge from the pupa (silk cocoon) in 7-174 days.

Even if we have perfect flea control with 100% prevention of egg production, it could take a total of 195 days or 6.5 months to complete the flea life cycle.

This means that as fast as your "miracle" adulticide is knocking them off, newly emerged adults are jumping on, which can give the false impression that Product X is not working.

It's amazing how much better Product X works when you address the 95% of the population which exist as eggs, larvae and pupae in the environment.

A thoughtful, nuanced integrated approach might include avoidance of under house areas, vacuuming, washing, sunlight, garden lime, polyborate powders on the carpet, IGRs or insect growth regulators and residual insecticides.

This involves a careful analysis of each individual flea problem.


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