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- Spring is Flea Season

When Shakespeare wrote "... that's a valiant flea that dare eat his breakfast on the lip of a lion," he was probably writing about a cat flea. Cat fleas are very common, even among lions, but putting a flea collar on a lion is a job strictly for volunteers, like giving a housecat a bath. Either may temporarily eliminate the fleas from the animal, but neither will rid the premises of the problem, Also, your lion will look a little silly wearing a flea collar.

Cat fleas, dog fleas, rat fleas and wild rodent fleas are common in California. Less common are human fleas, but they are still around, and all fleas will bite any warm-blooded creature if their preferred host is not available, Fleas can live up to a month without feeding, but they need a blood meal to reproduce, and some are dangerous to humans. Rat fleas and wild rodent fleas carry typhus, and some carry bubonic plague, These fleas do not usually bite humans unless their host animal has sickened, died or been killed, That is one reason a good pest control operator will recommend treating for fleas when eliminating rats and mice, and a good reason for never touching the carcass of a rat, chipmunk, squirrel or other rodent.

Fleas evolve in four stages: Egg, larval, pupal and adult. The eggs look like grains of salt and may be laid on the animal or in its bedding. After about three days, the eggs hatch into worm-like larvae which move in hitching motions, like inchworms. They also flip rapidly in circles when disturbed. After a week or so, they spin cocoons and enter the pupal stage, emerging as adults three or four days later. Adults are brown to brownish-black in color, with narrow bodies that allow them to move rapidly through fur, feathers or hair, and legs that make them some of nature's best jumpers. They will also emerge voraciously hungry and ready for bear (or lion, or you).

Your property can become infested even without pets. Animals, especially cats, frequently seek relief by leaving infested areas, carrying fleas with them. Once the infestation becomes irritatingly obvious , you should seek professional help for a thorough eradication. Over-the-counter sprays will only do part of the job.

Professional pest control operators will recommend a thorough indoor and outdoor treatment in three stages. First, they will spray the areas of obvious infestation for immediate results. Second, they will recommend spraying with a new type of chemical called an insect growth regulator. It is less toxic than a pesticide. It also lasts longer -- up to six months. Its purpose is to keep flea larvae from growing into adults. Third, the operators will recommend spraying with an additional pesticide, just to be sure that the eradication is

To prevent re-infestation, you should:

  • Have your pets treated for fleas the same day your property is sprayed.
  • Vacuum all carpeting, especially under furniture, and immediately empty the cleaner bag into a sealable trash container, Tightly seal the container and dispose of it.
  • Launder or replace your pet's bedding.
  • Clean your pet's shelter.
  • Remove all small objects from the area to be sprayed, especially toys. Members of the Pest Control Operators of California will absolutely refuse to endanger children by spraying toys or anything else that a child could put in its mouth.
  • Clean all surfaces to be treated,Pesticides and insect growth regulators work better and last longer on clean surfaces.
  • Keep your pets out of the treated area until the spray dries, usually for 10 to 20 minutes on a warm and dry day, or up to several hours on a cool or humid one.

The advantage of having a pest control operator treat your property, rather than you blasting away with spray cans, is that the operator will know where to spray for maximum effect. Fleas are quick to find new homes after their old ones have been treated. A good pest control operator will track them down, unless the pest happens to be hiding on the lip of a lion. Pest control operators do not treat pets -- especially lions.



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