flea photoOh Hey, Let’s Talk Pupae! by front desk specialist Jen

Have you ever had a dream that fleas were wearing armor? Me too!

They’re hopping around with armor and shields, swords, and tiny helmets and tridents. In that dream you can hear them laughing along with little sounds of “Pew! Pew! Pew!” as they throw their weapons and get ready for their own attack on your beloved pet.  It’s actually not a dream it’s a nightmare.

Welcome to my world. Jen’s World, Jen’s World……..

At the front desk, I’ve been talking about fleas for years. Flea control is a constant battle, and I hear it all from; “The flea treatment isn’t working” to “I don’t treat my indoor cats, they never go out”. Owners are using flea products , and yet, the fleas are never ending…

Here’s where it gets tricky. When you see one or two or three fleas, they are only about 5% of what’s in your environment. They lay eggs, which hatch into larvae, which then, after eating dust and dirt in the dark spaces of your home (yes, even the cracks of wood floors!) spin a cocoon….an indestructible, camouflaged little lair where they rest and take it easy until BLAMMO! …they become cute little baby fleas.

What needs to be focused on is the cocoon, or pupae. And there are hundreds. Sprays, bombs, and foggers take care of a large amount of the live fleas, eggs, and larvae, but the cocoon is nearly impenetrable.

Have you noticed after vacuuming that all of a sudden there are fleas everywhere? The flea will not emerge until the presence of a potential host is made obvious, whether it be by vibrations from a vacuum, rising levels of carbon dioxide, or body heat. It may also be triggered by your pet walking by, or people moving in the house, alerting the flea to emerge from its cocoon to feed. This is the heart of the flea problem, the mass of eggs larva and pupae in the environment.

Armed with this important information, and maybe some armor of your own, here is how you should prepare for your own battle:

  1. Treat ALL pets in your home with a safe, veterinary approved preventive.
  2. Gather any bedding you can and put in a hot, soapy wash.
  3. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum, everywhere!! This will act as a trigger to the cocoons  and it will suck up the emerging invaders before they become a problem. Fun Fact: some cocoons can be dormant for up to a year without any triggers. Once you’re done vacuuming, throw out the bag! Every life cycle can live in a vacuum bag, and will make their way out.
  4. Treat your home with a veterinary approved premise treatment especially in places where you can not vacuum. Under couches and bureaus, in the cracks of wood floors and along walls and floor boards.
  5. Once it has dried, you may consider spraying again.

Keep in mind that dogs and cats should always be treated, ideally year-round, for fleas. Even if your dog is a couch potato, and your cat has never been outside, fleas can (and will!) get in.

Something simple to remember is that “prevention is cheaper than treatment”, meaning, as long as your pets are on a preventive year-round, the risk of treating an infestation would be lower than if they are only treated during the cold months.

 If you ever find yourself faced with an army of tiny, armor-covered, axe-wielding fleas, arm yourself with these tips! You will prevail!