Fleas are tough, rapid-breeding pests that can quickly take over your entire home. Adult fleas and their eggs can survive being vacuumed and pupated fleas can hide in plain sight for up to two years before they emerge.
People often complain about flea infestations that keep “coming back”. However, it’s more likely that it is the same infestation that you simply didn’t get rid the first time.
As a dog owner myself, I know how frustrating a flea infestation can be and how sad it is to see a beloved pet suffering from their bites. But if you are thorough, you can get rid of fleas and stop them from coming back.
Cat and dog fleas will happily feed on humans – as you will know if you have the misfortune of getting bitten by one – but they do not breed on us. There are fleas that can use humans as their host, but they’re not worth worrying about in developed countries.
This means that your pets will be ground zero of your flea infestation. Begin by treating your pets with a combination of combing and whichever flea treatment is recommended by your vet.
Regularly grooming your pets isn’t just a nice thing to do for them, it’s also the best way to catch a flea infestation at its earliest stages when it’s easiest to get rid of. When combing your pets, look for “flea dirt”, which is dried blood excreted by adult fleas. It looks like ordinary dirt at a glance, but will turn a reddish brown when wet.
Hoover, beat or wash their bedding on a high heat then spray it with an anti-flea insecticide. Do the same to any carpets, cushions or furniture wherever your pets may use. If you have caged animals, empty the cage and throw away its contents before using an insecticide.
Fleas can be carried into the house by rodents, so you may also want to look around your house for any signs of infestation, such as droppings, rodent holes, smear marks along kickboards and chewed food packets and boxes. If there are signs of a rodent infestation, call a professional pest controller immediately.
Another common source of flea infestation is, especially in London where they will often share our gardens with our cats and dogs. If you know are foxes are using your garden, you should take measures to deter them or contact a professional pest control company to provide fox proofing.
If you respond at the first signs of infestation, this may be enough to stop it in its tracks. But if your pet is heavily infested or if this is an infestation that has “come back”, then you should assume that your entire house is infested and move on to the next step.
Pupated fleas can remain dormant for up to two years in their cocoon, where they wait to detect nearby heat or vibrations which causes them to emerge and seek out a potential host.
These cocoons are what make fleas such a difficult pest to get rid of. They are incredibly tough and coated with a sticky surface which collects dirt, dust and hair making them perfectly camouflaged soon after they’ve been woven.
Worst of all, insecticides can’t penetrate them. Even if you fill every room in your house with so much spray you can’t see, the fleas will continue to rest safely in their cocoons.
The way around this is regular, thorough vacuuming. Vacuuming can trick fleas into emerging from their cocoons, at which point they are vulnerable to insecticides. Your routine should be to hoover, spray, hoover, spray every other day for around a month.
Remember that fleas and flea eggs will survive the vacuuming so it’s very important that you empty your vacuum cleaner after every use into an outside bin otherwise you might accidentally spread the fleas around your home.
If that sounds like a lot of work, well, it is. Fleas are one of the most stubborn pests you can encounter and to get rid of them entirely you need to be thorough. Unless you have the time to dedicate to this flea-busting schedule, you’re better off seeking help from professional exterminators.
Even if you get a professional flea treatment, we will still need you to vacuum between our visits and to continue doing so after we have completed treatment in order to maximise the number of fleas exposed to insecticides.