Pesky fleas make treating your home for pests tricky

SO you've decided to treat your house for fleas.

You have decided to use a fogger plus some residual sprays and insect growth regulators.

You're thinking that the upcoming holiday away will be the ideal time to do it.

Treat the house just before you go and come back to a flea-free house, easy-peasy.

It's surprising how often I hear this and unfortunately it is the wrong thing to do.

The reason is those pesky flea pupas.

Those fleas cocooned in the pupal stage will lie dormant if there is no movement in the house, in effect almost waiting for you to return. How thoughtful of them.

The reason they do this makes sense when you think that once they emerge from that cocoon, they must find a host and have a blood meal within a couple of days or they die.

Imagine the selection pressure which has driven the evolution of characteristics which enhance their ability to locate hosts.

Those fleas who could not feed quickly were soon out of the gene pool.

The result is a parasite highly adapted to locating a nearby host.

They do this by detecting pressure from being walked on or vibrations of a passing animal.

They also have receptors to detect heat and also the carbon dioxide which host animals breathe out.

In fact, fleas can emerge within seconds of the first vibrations when you walk into a house which has been unoccupied for a time.

This means that the best time to treat your house for fleas is while you and your pets are still around.

Of course you need to go out for a couple of hours if you are using the foggers or "flea bombs".

Vacuuming is helpful for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, it will remove some eggs, some larvas and some pupas.

The latter two stages are sticky and hairy and not so easy to remove with vacuuming but eggs are shiny and smooth and will be removed quite well.

Secondly vacuuming straightens the carpet pile, enabling better penetration of flea control products.

There are also more eco-friendly house treatments available such as diatomaceous earth, borax and flea light traps.


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