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Treating Fleas Basics


Filed in Dogs, Fleas and Ticks

On the wild frontier, ancient explorers faced many trials and adversities. Early American pioneers were plagued by freezing cold, broiling heat, torrential rains, droughts, insects, and plagues.

The modern pioneer -- the urban pet owner -- is faced with perhaps the worst plague of all: fleas. If there were to be a worldwide nuclear holocaust, I believe the only creatures with the best chance for survival are fleas and cockroaches.

Flea Life Cycle

Ridding your cat and its environment of fleas can sometimes seem like a never-ending battle. Even if you don't see them on your cat the odds are great that he or she has fleas.

The adult flea spends less than 10% of its life actually on the cat. It hops on, takes in a quick blood meal, and hops off. The rest of its life is spent in the carpet, furniture, and the yard, where it lays its eggs to ensure a new crop of fleas. The adult female flea can lay about 2,000 eggs. Don't think that your cat is the only creature bringing fleas into your home. A flea will attach itself to any convenient host: mice, dogs, children, and yes, even you.

To combat the flea you must first know a little about its life and habits. The average flea population consists of approximately 50% eggs, 35% larvae, 10% pupae, and 5% adults. Since the adults make up such a small percentage of the flea population you can see that just killing the adults will have little effect on the overall flea population.

Each life stage of the flea is susceptible to a different type of control. Treatments that kill the adult will not be effective against eggs or larvae. Agents that control the eggs and larvae will not handle the adults. And nothing (short of picking them up with tweezers and smashing them with a hammer) will kill the pupae.

Thus, you need to use multiple methods to effectively combat the flea. To be most effective, the methods must be used together to help reduce the chance of reinfestation. See our related articles for more on dealing with fleas inside and outside your home.

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