Fleas are parasites belonging to the order Siphonaptera. Their mouthparts are specially adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. They feed on warm blooded vertebrates such as cats, dogs, rodents, chickens and humans.
It is thought that fleas have claimed more victims than all the wars ever fought. The bubonic plague, which was spread by rat fleas, killed nearly 200 million people. In other words, the entire population of Australia ten times over!
Fleas are wingless and cannot fly, but they are famous for being one of the longest jumpers in the animal kingdom. A flea can jump horizontally up to 33cm or 200 times its own body length.
Fleas can survive for several months without blood. When they do feed, they inject a small amount of anticoagulant into the puncture to aid in the siphoning of blood. Some people are allergic to flea saliva and may come out in a rash.
Female fleas will deposit four eggs after each feed, up to a hundred in their life cycle of a few months. The eggs may hatch within a week. The larvae feed on skin scales and undigested blood that is excreted by the adults. After four moults they spin a silken cocoon and may stay there in a dormant state for several months if conditions are unfavourable. Their emergence is often triggered by vibrations that may indicate that humans or pets have entered the area.
The main flea species that can attack humans are the cat flea, dog flea and the human flea. The latter two are rare, however the common cat flea is also found on dogs. Although uncommon, the only flea-borne disease in Australia is murine typhus, which is transmitted by rat fleas.
In all cases, pets must be treated by their owners before further flea treatments can be carried out. All bedding, kennels and other infested areas should be treated at the same time. Bedding can be washed or burned.
Prior to your flea treatment, we recommend that you vacuum the interior and leave the bag out for us to treat. The treatment includes internal areas and external areas. If rat fleas are suspected, then the treatment should coincide with a rodent treatment to eliminate the source of the fleas.