What are fleas?

Fleas are blood sucking insects of warm blooded mammals. The most common pest fleas in the UK are cat and dog fleas. There are fleas that infest humans, but these are becoming increasingly rare in an age of better sanitation.

Adult fleas are normally 1-4mm long and brownish in colour. Fleas do not have wings but have a tremendous ability to jump and can reach a vertical height of some 30cm (about 200 times their body length!) Female fleas can live up to 2 years and can lay 25 eggs a day.

Where do they live?

It is a common misunderstanding that adult fleas actually live on the host animal – they do not, they simply feed on the pet and then jump off again. It is only the eggs of the flea that are laid loosely among the hairs of the host or in the animal bedding. Even those eggs laid on the animal will soon fall to the ground. As a result of this they will develop in crevices in the flooring, along skirting boards, under the edges of rugs and beneath cushions on upholstered furniture. The pet's bedding is an obvious area for fleas to develop and a cat's bedding may support a population of 8,000 immature and 2,000 adult fleas.

Do fleas carry disease?

In Britain fleas are not generally responsible for the transmission of disease. However, they are still objectionable due to bites they inflict and the social stigma that is attached to the thought of having a flea infested house. Dogs can suffer tapeworm infestation if they inadvertently ingest fleas while grooming.

How do I know if I have a problem?

  • If your pet starts to scratch this could indicate a flea problem (look through their fur and you may actually see a flea).
  • The presence of “flea-dirt”, which is tiny black specks just visible on the skin surface which is the faeces of the flea containing digested blood.
  • The presence of bites which normally persist for 1-2 days and can cause irritation.

How can I prevent fleas?

  • Regular cleaning of carpets and furniture will make it more difficult for fleas to establish themselves.
  • Combing your pet with a flea comb regularly will help destroy eggs.
  • Spray your pet regularly with an insecticide recommended by a vet. This is particularly important during the summer months with flea infestations reaching a peak in September. It is generally recognised that the effectiveness of flea collars is very limited. Sprays are more likely to be of more help.

For further information on fleas and treatment for your pets go to: www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/general/fleas

How do I get rid of fleas?

Once a flea infestation has been confirmed it is important to carry out a thorough treatment.
Prior to treatment you must treat any pets in the household for any possible flea problem to avoid re-infestation and it is advisable to remove all children’s toys from floor areas.

The Council’s Pest Control Officers will inspect area of concern and treat the flea problem by spraying floor area. Treatment is chargeable and will take approximately 30 minutes to one hour dependent on size of dwelling.