Fleas are tiny insects that survive on consuming blood mostly from animals, but sometimes from humans, as well. They can be a real nuisance and the worst part is that you don’t even need to have pets in order to be a victim of an infestation.
In our article, we will go through the most important facts about fleas, the signs of a flea infestation and how to prevent one.
What do fleas look like?
Before we start with the signs, it’s important to know about what those little buggers look like so you can make sure you’re dealing with fleas, and not something else. Read on to learn what adult fleas look like and their eggs too.
Adults are actually quite easy to spot since they are dark in colour, usually varying from black to brown and reddish-brown, with their size reaching up to 4mm in length. Similar to many species, the females are bigger than the males. Their bodies are flat with 6 legs that help them jump great heights – up to 30 cm per jump!
Their eggs, on the other hand, are very difficult to see with the naked eye. They are white, almost translucent oval-shaped spots that are usually less than a millimetre long. And if you have pets that are light in colour, it’s practically impossible. If you have doubts for a flea infestation, you will have more luck looking for the parents and just assume that the eggs are there, as well.
Can you get fleas without pets?
It’s a general misconception that you can only have fleas if there is a pet present at the property at all times. That is not the case, though. Fleas can invade your home in other ways. Let’s take a look at them.
- Fleas were brought to your home by homeless animals such as dogs, cats, possums, raccoons, squirrels, skunks, or others, depending on where you live. They usually gather around homes and in search for food and with the flea’s amazing jumping abilities and the fact that they can wait for months to actually feed on an animal or a person, you have yourself an infestation waiting to happen. Rodents can also bring fleas to your property, along with a bunch of other problems.
- The other option is if the tenant before you, or the previous owner had pets with fleas, and some were left behind. As we mentioned, those little bloodsuckers can survive a long time without eating, so it’s no problem for them to wait for the new homeowners or tenants to move in.
Signs of a flea infestation
Now that you know what the fleas look like and that you can get infested no matter if you have pets or not, let’s move on to the most common signs of fleas. Most of them you will notice on your pet. Still, if you have any doubts, we recommend that you contact a professional who will know for sure so you don’t start with the wrong treatment.
You see adult fleas
As we mentioned, you can’t really see the eggs, so the only visible fleas are the adult ones. You can mostly see them jumping around; if you have a pet – around their bedding and toys; if you don’t, pretty much anywhere in the house.
Light and dark flecks
These dark spots are basically the dirt of the fleas, and can also be spotted mainly on and around their bedding and toys. The lighter ones are the eggs and you can only notice them if the background is dark.
Your pet starts scratching excessively
This is actually one of the first signs of a flea problem. Your furry pets will start scratching constantly, they will be irritated and will try to bite and lick themselves all the time. So, make sure you’re keeping a close eye on your pet and act the second you notice any strange behaviour.
You notice flea bites
Both you and your pet can become victims of fleas. The bite itself feels like a very small, barely noticeable sting, which then becomes an irritating and very red itchy area on the body. It’s quite possible that you mistake it to a mosquito bite but if you notice something like this in the winter, mosquitoes are probably not the ones to blame. Pay attention to what are the current seasonal insects and if they can leave the same mark as a flea. And even though fleas are very good jumpers, they would still probably bite the area closest to the ground, so if you do get bitten, it will be around the ankles and feet.
Your pet will start losing fur
This usually happens at a very late stage of the infestation, and if you still haven’t started treatment, you should do it immediately. Alopecia is a very serious allergic reaction that should be taken seriously and it’s one of the most concerning signs of a flea infestation.
Their gums turn pale
Your pet’s gums should be red and if they are not, that’s a clear sign of flea presence. This means your pet is developing anaemia due to all the blood that’s been sucked from its body. This calls for an immediate visit to the vet and a call to a pest control professional.
How to prevent a flea infestation
As we all know, prevention is the best method for dealing with an infestation. Just don’t let it happen in the first place. So what can you do to save yourself and your pets from these scary blood-sucking insects? Read on to learn how to prevent a flea infestation!
Regular treatments for your pet
Since 90% of the times fleas are brought from pets after a walk or after being outside, the first thing you should do is to make sure they are protected properly. This is an individual process that should be consulted with your vet. Don’t give your pet any treatment without the recommendation of a doctor or you risk harming your pet seriously.
Make sure no stray animals enter your home
If you don’t have pets or you’ve done everything in your power to protect them from fleas, the next logical step is to prevent the access of any other animals that might be infested. This includes mostly rodents. Check your home from entry points and if you have to, call for a professional to perform a thorough inspection of your home. If you have mice or rats in your house, fleas are probably the least of your problems.
Protecting your home from fleas
- Seal any entry points you can find and make sure to not leave the doors or windows open.
- Instal flyscreens to prevent stray animals from entering your home.
- Leave no food outside so you don’t attract furry invaders.
- Clean up your bins and don’t let them overflow.
- Get rid of and replace any rotten, moist timber in your home, such as planks. They can create the perfect environment for pests to settle down.
Protecting your garden from fleas
Since your garden is outside (duh), there is not much you can do to restrict the access of pests and wild animals. But there are some things you can do, so don’t lose hope!
- Plant flea repelling plants – those include but are not limited to catnip, eucalyptus, sage, mint, rosemary, lemongrass, lavender, and much more.
- Place those plants around the entrances of your garden, close to the crops you want to protect, and around the play area of your animal, if there is one. Make sure to place the invasive species in pots so that you can move them around easily and they don’t take over your garden.
- Water the plants regularly but make sure there is no still water in the area.
- Trim and mow your grass regularly and don’t allow any overgrown sections.
Any pest infestation is an unpleasant experience but one that affects your beloved pets and it’s visibly making them suffer, it’s even worse. So to escape from all of that, follow our prevention tips and look out for signs. And then things get out of control, we recommend that you call a professional instead of relying on DIY methods that are not guaranteed to work.