Summertime Pests: Cat Fleas

FleaAs summer progresses, so do certain pest populations. The cat flea is one such pest. Despite its name, the cat flea is the most prevalent flea on both dogs and cats and the one chiefly responsible in structural infestations. It is estimated responsible for 95% of the structural infestations in the U.S.


Fleas have Four Life Stages

Fleas have four life stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The eggs, larva and pupa will be found in the favorite pet resting spots. Eggs are laid on the pet and fall to the floor when the pet moves. The larva which emerge from the eggs, feed on organic debris and adult flea feces (digested blood) found in carpet, floor cracks or pet bedding. The pupa is the resting stage and when its stage is complete, it emerges into the adult stage, ready to find an animal host. The adult fleas spend most of their time on the host where they feed on blood and lay eggs.

Habits and Habitat

Fleas rely on high humidity to develop and is one of the reasons they are low in numbers in the winter despite living in sufficiently warm, heated structures. They tend to be a summer pest and activity peaks coincide with high humidity. If found outdoors, they are typically associated with areas of high vegetation, underneath decks or in dog runs in shaded locations. They can also be associated with outdoor wildlife like opossums and raccoons. Sometimes they can be associated with structural infestations due to these pests nesting in attics, crawlspaces or fireplaces of the infested building.

Flea Prevention and Control

Flea control requires coordinated effort between the homeowner and pest management professional. Host pets must be treated for management of the adult fleas and is typically performed by on animal topical applications by veterinarians or the homeowner. Vacuuming is an important part of the control procedures to remove organic material which the larva are feeding on. Laundering of pet bedding is another sanitary control. Lastly, treatment of the premises is sometimes needed to control populations and is often done with an aerosol containing an insect growth regulator for management of the immature stages along with an adulticide to kill adults. If wildlife is responsible for the infestation, these animals must be removed and an adulticide and IGR applied.