There are several factors to consider when it comes to eliminating fleas from your pet, home and yard. To start, you need to understand the life cycle of fleas.
Understanding The Life Cycle Of A Flea
– Information courtesy of Jennifer Kvamme, DVM
There are 4 stages of Flea development:
Eggs ―> Larvae ―> Pupae ―> Adult Fleas
Stage 1: Eggs
Flea eggs are white and small like a grain of sand. They represent 50% of the flea population in your home and/or yard. An adult flea, nourished by your pet’s blood (or yours!), lay eggs on your pet in bunches of about 20 eggs, twice a day. Eggs spread through your home and yard by falling off your pet, so wherever your pet spends the most time is where most of the eggs will be concentrated. If conditions are right, which is warm and humid, eggs take 2 days to hatch. If conditions are not ideal, such as cold and dry, it takes about 2 weeks.
Stage 2: Larvae
Flea larvae are a light color of grey, approximately a quarter of an inch long, legless, and blind. They represent 35% of the flea population in your home and/or yard. Larvae eat flea dirt, digested blood, and organic debris from the environment (shedded skin cells, etc). Flea larvae like it dark, so they move to dark areas to hide. They feed up to 5 to 20 days after hatching before spinning cocoons in which they will complete transformation.
Stage 3: Pupae
Flea pupae have a sticky coating so they can hide in carpets and not be easily vacuumed or swept up; it protects them from chemicals as well. They represent 10% of the flea population in your home and/or yard. Pupae remain in this stage for days or weeks and only emerge when a permanent host is obvious. They can detect vibrations from pets and people walking and moving about, rising levels of carbon dioxide, body heat, and more. Because they can stay in the pupa stage for a long time, abandoned homes and yards that initially have no sign of fleas can suddenly have an infestation within a short period of time of being there (sometimes less than an hour).
Stage 4: Adult Fleas
Adult fleas are dark, very small, and have flat bodies. They represent only 5% of the flea population in your home. As they feed, they get larger, and their color gets lighter. Fleas typically live on your pets, feeding and laying eggs (remember, 20 eggs up to twice a day!) for their lifespans, which are 2 weeks up to several months.
Flea Treatment & Prevention
You can use this knowledge of the flea life cycle to eliminate an infestation. You will need to treat your pet, home, and yard at the same time. To stop and also to prevent flea infestations, you need to treat your pets, home, and yard for fleas year-round, especially in Florida where we have very mild winters. In addition, you will need to repel the feral cats and wild animals in your yards.
1- Comb your pet several times a day with a flea comb.
2- Wash pet bedding and toys in hot soapy water to remove eggs, larvae, and pupae.
3- Treat fleas on your pet with shampoo, sprays, dips, or spot-on medications.
In the Home
4- Vacuum furniture and floors at least every 2 days.
5- Wash surfaces to remove flea dirt.
6- Treat surfaces with flea products.
In the Yard
6- Rake leaves and trim plants to eliminate dark hiding places for larvae.
7- Use sprays and granules for flea elimination in the yard – please ask us for recommendations after you tell us your specific situation!
Be Consistent and Persistent
It is important to repeat treatments every 7 to 10 days, to break the flea life cycle.
Ask your veterinarian for advice if your pet has health problems or is elderly.
We sell the following products:
Certain products have restrictions for use, please see the below.
Permethrin – cannot be used if there are cats in your family
Bifenthrin – used mainly for imported red fire ants but also kills fleas. It is a neurotoxin and has severe effects on aquatic life, thus if you have a fish pond near by or if you have sewer service for drainage of your rain water, we do not recommend using this product.
Adam’s Flea & Tick – several treatment options are offered by this company – spray, shampoo, powder – and it has a pleasant scent.
Advantage II – pet topical treatment
Advantix – topical for dogs only
Flea Stoppers – flea powder for homes/carpets
Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) – can be used in carpets and in the yard to repel insects, nematodes, and more. It is also a good additive for chicken dust baths!
Boric Acid – natural insect killer (roaches, ants, fleas)
Cedar Granules – natural insect killer/repellant
Tobacco Dust – sold as a soil amendment only – for treating the yard
Need More Assistance?
Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, Inc. staff have specialized knowledge to help customers take the correct course of action in treating and controlling your flea problems. Please stop by and chat with us. You can also email us from the Contact Us page or call the store at (813) 932-9775 during business hours.