Flea Control 101

This year, fleas have been a big problem in August and September.

Here are the principles of flea control. Use these concepts when deciding how to deal with your flea problem.

There are 3 methods of control: killing the adults, making the eggs and/or larvae not develop into adults and physically removing adults and immature forms in the environment.

Killing adults only is not a long-term flea control strategy. Many of the products on the market are targeted only to adults. While these products can be less expensive, you are not spending your money wisely. The bulk of the fleas in the environment are eggs or larvae. An adult flea lays up to 3000 eggs in her life time. Needless to say, killing the live fleas you see will not solve your problem long-term.

However many animals are very sensitive to flea bites. In this case, killing the adults will make your dog or cat much more comfortable.

Inactivating the immature fleas is a good long-term control strategy. Some of these chemicals are the least toxic products available. But this method alone does take longer (1-2 months) but once it works, you are in good shape long-term. Sometimes you might have to add in other adult killing products if your pet suddenly comes in contact with many adult fleas.

Many products are combination products-they kill the adults and also target the immature fleas.

You do not always have to ‘bomb’ your house. Mechanical removal (vacuuming, shaking out or washing bedding), along with targeting spraying if the problem is severe and treating all the pets in your house if often enough. If you have indoor pets with fleas, you need to continue flea control year round. Eggs will continue to hatch in your house when conditions are right. And even the best vacuum cleaner on the market will not get every egg.

There are many products on the market. Talk to your veterinarian and let them help you design an effective flea control strategy.

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