What Are Fleas?
Size: 1/12 to 1/6 inches long
Color: Shiny, reddish-brown
Feeding: Parasite (feeds on blood)
Flying: No, but they jump (up to 8 inches high)
Adult fleas are usually pretty easy to locate. If you check your pet's fur regularly for fleas, they will be incredibly easy to find. However, only about 5% of a flea population consists of adults. It is estimated that about 50% of the population are eggs, 35% are in the larvae (caterpillar) stage, and 10% are in the pupal (cocoon) stage. So, like many infestations, the problem is far worse than it may seem. 95% of the flea population in your home is virtually undetectable to the human eye. Eggs are so small that they are often nestled deep within carpets, or anywhere your pet lays down to rest. Female fleas will live for about 100 days, all the while laying anywhere from 400-500 eggs. Therefore, the problem is capable of growing very rapidly.
Can Fleas Bite Humans?
While they typically prefer hairy animals such as dogs, cats, and other domesticated or wild creatures, fleas can bite humans if need be. This will often become the case if the current host leaves the area. Many people believe it is best to place their pets outside when they discover fleas, but this often does more harm than good. Since the fleas that are still stuck inside now have no dog or cat to feed on, they will switch over to feeding on any warm-blooded creature they can find; including humans. A flea infestation becomes very obvious after being away from home with your pet for a few days. Upon your return, it is likely that you will walk through your front door to see fleas jumping around your home. Because they have been without food for so long, they are looking to jump on the next available host that comes into contact with them, which is likely going to be you.
Does My Pet Have Fleas?
One of the biggest signs that your pet has fleas is consistent scratching. If you've noticed your dog or cat grooming and scratching itself more than usual, it is highly likely that they have fleas. Be sure to thoroughly examine their fur, and take them to the vet immediately if your suspicions are confirmed. While fleas are rarely dangerous to humans, they can be harmful to animals. It is important to ask your veterinarian about a continuous flea prevention treatment plan, to keep fleas away from your furry friend in the future.
Cat fleas are the most common species in North America. Despite their name, they also love to feed on both dogs and humans. No matter what species of flea you are bitten by, however, you will likely have the same symptoms. These include:
Small, itchy, red bites that do not grow in size
Bites in groups of 3-4
A straight line of bites
Bites mainly around ankles and legs
May also find bites around the waist, armpits, breasts, groin, and the folds of elbows and knees
If you are being bitten by fleas, it is most likely because an animal in your home first brought them in. However, it is also possible to be bitten by fleas without having a pet. Fleas also love to hang outdoors in areas with tall grass and shade, typically around decks and sheds. If you have concerns about a flea infestation in your home, it is important to contact a pest control professional immediately, before the problem gets any worse.