Auburn, Ala. – Fleas are some of the most annoying pests known to man, and even worse for man’s best friend. Every year in Alabama the cat flea and dog flea make their way into the homes of unaware pet owners. Life becomes miserable as they make their presence known through irritating bites and sometimes more disturbing symptoms such as tapeworms.
Combatting fleas outside of the house is a good place to begin so that the infestation is less likely to spread into your house through your pet. Dr. Xing Ping Hu stated that fleas will typically take up residence in shaded, moist areas where your pets are more likely to rest.
That being said, winter is the best time to take preliminary steps to get ready for the impending summer months and hot climate that attracts these pests. The temperatures in milder weather have the potential to increase the risk of infestation.
“You can take advantage of the flea’s slow development during the winter months and have a fighting chance of getting a handle on any in-home infestation you may have in warm months,” Hu said.
Hu has been studying entomology since 1978 and believes that IPM (or Integrated Pest Management) is most effective in combatting fleas. However, treatments can vary from pet to pet. On the inside of the house, she recommends repeatedly vacuuming while using insecticides that will fight against fleas in both the adult and immature stages.
If you are concerned with the safety of your pet or outside space with the harsh chemicals in sprays, use non-pesticide methods instead. It is important to read the instructions on every container so that you can efficiently and safely clean your house. Hu also warns against the use of “fogging” your house.
“Fogging has the most limited effect on fleas,” she said.
To check for fleas on your animal, purchase a flea comb to groom your pet’s fur and make sure there are no visible adult fleas. Their eggs and larvae however, do not develop on your pet but instead in the locations where your pet spends its time. These areas are generally dark and warm, which offers protection to the immature fleas.
“Homes with pets that either have fleas, or have not been treated as a precaution, are the most at risk,” Hu said. “It just takes a few fleas left unchecked to turn into a full-blown flea infestation.”
It is always smart to protect yourself in any way possible from fleas. Washing clothes often in hot water will kill fleas that may come into contact with them. In addition, it is recommended that you wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts with high socks that are light in color.
“Lighter colored clothes generally provide fewer hiding places than darker ones,” Hu said.
Although humans are not a preferred host, fleas have no problem switching their diet to survive. Make sure to take preliminary cautions for both you and your furry friends this season to minimalize the risks.
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