Fleas

Fleas (Ctenocephalides felis – Ctenoce)

Fleas are frequently encountered in homes and are common pests on domestic cats and dogs. Dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis) look like cat fleas, but are less common in the UK. Fleas on either cats or dogs in the UK are most likely cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis).

Identification
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.

Life Cycle
Female cat fleas remain on the host (unlike most other fleas) and lay about 20 to 30 eggs per day on the animal. Cat flea eggs are pearly white, oval, and about 1/32 inch long. The eggs are smooth; they readily fall from the pet and land on surfaces like bedding and carpeting in the animal’s environment.
They hatch in about 2 days. The whitish, wormlike larvae feed on dried blood and excrement produced by adult fleas feeding on the pet. Larval development is normally restricted to protected places where there is at least 75% relative humidity. They feed and crawl around for 5 to 15 days at 70° to 90°F before they build small silken cocoons in which they develop into adult fleas (pupate).

The pupae are usually covered with local debris for visual camouflage. Flea larvae develop more quickly at higher temperatures. At cool temperatures, fully formed fleas may remain in their cocoons for up to 12 months. Warm temperatures and mechanical pressure, caused by walking on the carpet, vacuuming, and so on, stimulate emergence from the cocoon. At room temperatures, the entire life cycle may be completed in about 18 days. An adult cat flea generally lives about 30 to 40 days on the host; it is the only stage that feeds on blood. Fleas may be found on pets throughout the year, but numbers tend to increase dramatically during spring and early summer.

Problems Associated with Fleas
Cat fleas readily try to feed on almost any warm-blooded animal. Some people are bothered by the sensation of fleas walking on their skin, but bites are the major nuisance. Bites tend to be concentrated on the lower legs but can also occur on other parts of the body. The bite consists of a small, central red spot surrounded by a red halo, usually without excessive swelling.

Flea bites usually cause minor itching but may become increasingly irritating to people with sensitive or reactive skin. Some people and pets suffer from flea bite allergic dermatitis, characterised by intense itching, hair loss, reddening of the skin, and secondary infection. Just one bite may initiate an allergic reaction, and itching may persist up to 5 days after the bite.

Cat fleas may also serve as intermediary hosts of dog tapeworms. Cats or dogs may acquire this intestinal parasite while grooming themselves by ingesting adult fleas that contain a cyst of the tapeworm.

Our flea control services covers areas within South Birmingham and North Worcestershire which includes: Birmingham, Redditch, Bromsgrove, Halesowen, Barnt Green and Chaddesley Corbett

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