Pests in your home: getting rid of fleas

A Guide to Fleas

Fleas are a common household pest and an overall nuisance wherever they’re found. These parasites survive off the blood of mammals and birds, especially dogs, cats, rats, birds and humans. Fleas are known to bite pets and humans, leading to annoying, itchy, red bumps.

Many people think fleas are just a minor nuisance, but they can also cause very serious problems.  Aside from the irritating sensation of flea bites, they can also transmit diseases, such as murine typhus and the bubonic plague.

Fleas spread these diseases by transporting bacteria from host to host, through their interactions with a variety of animals. If a flea bites you or your pet, there’s a good chance it’s also bitten other cats, dogs, birds, rodents and people in the past.

How to Spot Fleas

Fleas are very small, usually less than 3mm long. They’re thin, flat, wingless insects, and are brown or dark red in color.

Fleas can be hard to spot; not only are they incredibly small, but they also have tremendous jumping abilities. They jump fast and far, making it difficult to spot them even when they’re all over the house.

Here are some tips for spotting fleas:

  • Examine your skin for bites, as well as the skin of your children. Look for those small, red, itchy bumps we talked about.
  • Check your pets by running a flea comb through their fur. Flea bites leave small spots of dried blood, called flea droppings. You can also take your pet to a vet to check for fleas.
  • Examine your household for dead and live fleas, as well as flea eggs and droppings. Be sure to look on floors, rugs, carpeted areas, furniture, linens, and pet bedding.  Some of these signs are small and hard to spot, so you might want to whip your magnifying glass out.

How to Get Rid of Fleas

If you’ve found evidence of fleas in your home, there are several steps you can take to remove the pesky bugs:

  • Give your pet a flea bath. Use tepid water and apply flea shampoo all over your beloved pet’s coat (he’ll thank you later). Be sure to lather the shampoo a lot, and apply more than once if necessary.
  • Get a flea treatment product for your pet. These products kill fleas and can be taken orally or applied topically to your pet’s fur. Some of these products can stop flea eggs from hatching and prevent young fleas from developing into adults.
  • Thoroughly wash your rugs, linens, and pet bedding, and vacuum your home frequently (but you do that anyway, right?). This will help ensure you remove all living fleas and flea eggs.
  • Pesticides and repellents also exist in the form of powders and sprays. Needless to say, these products can help keep your home free of fleas too.

If you still can’t get rid of fleas after trying these methods, it may be time to call in the professionals, who are armed with special equipment and chemicals that can help remove the blighters.