Fleas (siphonaptera) are wingless parasites that feast on the blood of warm-blooded animals. Because of their ability to jump incredible distances, they don’t need wings to travel far. Fleas typically find their way onto wild animals such as raccoons, rats, and possums, and can eventually find their way into your home once they’ve latched onto your cat or dog. A flea bite can cause painful, itchy bumps to form, sending you and your pets into a very uncomfortable situation.

Not only do fleas feed off animals, but they lay their eggs directly on them as well. Left untreated, fleas can stay with a host for most of the flea’s life—which can be up to three months—during which time the females can produce 500 or more offspring. And where do you think they will live?

The female must feed before laying eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae then turn to pupate before becoming adults. Only the adult flea sucks blood. From the time they emerge in their mature form, adult fleas have about seven days to find a blood meal or they die. The average flea population is 50 percent eggs, 35 percent larvae, 10 percent pupae, and five percent adults. The first three forms of the insect are not easily visible.

Flea Signs and Symptoms

If you own a pet, you’re more likely to encounter fleas. If you notice your dog or cat is scratching excessively or has pink spots on the skin, there could be a flea infestation. Fleas often target the hindquarters of a dog and the head and neck of a cat. If you see signs of fleas on your pet, check the areas of the house and yard that your pet spends most of its time. To catch fleas in the act: put on white socks, pull them up over your calves, and walk around your pet’s favorite areas. Any lurking fleas will reveal themselves.

Some of the places fleas will most likely hide are in cool, moist, and shady places, such as:

  • Basements
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Underneath the porch
  • Along fences
  • Around the edge of the house

Flea Prevention

Before you notice any fleas, there are a few ways to help prevent an infestation:

  • Remove weeds and debris from your lawn
  • Stack wood neatly
  • Remove any clutter so that there are no possible places for fleas to hide
  • Don’t overwater the lawn, because fleas thrive in moisture
  • Mow and prune regularly to keep the grass exposed to sun
  • Consider using cedar chips as a decorative accent in the yard—fleas hate the smell of cedar

Once you see signs of the fleas, clean your entire house and wash everything that could have been exposed: linens, pet beds, clothing, etc. Clean any outdoor areas where your pet spends time.

There are flea control treatments you can apply to your yard that come in spray and tank pump form. These chemicals are toxic, so make sure you clear the area and protect yourself until the treatment has completely dried. A second application may be needed, so be sure to follow treatment instructions carefully. Call Cardinal Lawns for assistance in creating a flea-free home.

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