What’s dark, hairy, wingless, has long legs, and likes to suck blood? It is, of course, the miniscule flea. Its name is often used as a description of one’s weakness or diminutive size, but it is a big problem for folks who have them in their yard, home or on their pets. The skin irritations caused by their bites can be frustrating and even painful. They seem to multiply before one’s eyes and are difficult to find. So, the prevailing question that follows is: How to get rid of fleas in Florida, or anywhere, for that matter?
Where do fleas live?
Let’s start by learning how or why the flea chooses its home (or in most cases, victim). The basic elements of life are at work in making this decision easy for fleas. They want food and they want to reproduce. A warm environment is inviting to fleas, and mammals provide this consistently with their warm blood running 24/7. This could be a wild critter roaming your yard, a family pet, or even you! All look (feel, actually) just fine to a flea.
Fleas will also take up shelter in warm, dark and moist places outdoors. They will eat practically anything organic (as in, natural, not necessarily the more expensive, free from fertilizer produce category). In Florida, fleas tend to be most active in spring and summer months, but they are active all year long.
Fortunately for the flea, finding a good host also translates into an opportunity for a steady supply of food. The same blood that keeps things toasty underneath also is their supermarket. A flea is equipped with a perfectly designed mouth that is blood-sippingly ready to dine at any moment. After a filling meal of host blood, the flea’s next step is usually to lay eggs—often within hours!
How to Identify Fleas
Adult fleas are quite small. The tend to be ¼” in length, fairly narrow-bodied and flat. Their body is shiny and somewhat hard, with tiny hairs. Their long legs make jumping almost a “super-power” when the time is right to leap onto a host. The flea eggs are oval-shaped, white and flat. Size is an even smaller dimension than an adult flea, of course. Expect to be wearing reading glasses or have a magnifying glass if you expect to see the 1/32” (.02 inch) typical size of a flea egg. You’ll have plenty of time to look for them in your carpet or bedding, however, as a flea egg can remain alive for up to a year.
The flea egg will eventually hatch into a larva, complete with an appetite for food. Once they have had their fill, they will be encased by a cocoon to move on to the pupa stage for a week or so. Finally, the step into the life as an adult flea will be precipitated by a peculiar “trigger” that could be:
- An increase of heat
- Increase in CO2 level
How to Get Rid of Fleas: The Common Attempts
Initially, you may want to approach the flea problem at the source, or the carrier. There are pet treatments that can inhibit the growth rate of fleas, and these can certainly help with the problem. Check with your veterinarian to see what is best for your pet.
If you feel the flea problem is closer—as in, on your own body—the recommendation is to apply a DEET-specific insect repellent and follow with a shower. Of course, you should wash any exposed clothing or bedding in hot water and strong detergent.
The greater issue is not knowing if the fleas had already produced eggs. If you or a pet has already made some contact with furniture or your bed, it may be time to escalate the approach to getting rid of fleas.
The Aerial Attack: Do Foggers or Bombs Get Rid of Fleas?
To many, the simplest method to bring peace back to your home is a scorched-earth approach. A “whole house” fogger, or “bomb” appears to be popular because it promises a one-and-done style of flea removal many find appealing. The problem with this method of flea extermination is that it is incomplete. The fog will not find its way between cracks, crevices, and all the damp areas fleas prefer to breed and live. The fog is also surface-specific, meaning it falls on a surface and can be quickly removed with a vacuum or by dusting. This minimizes the effectiveness and even though your family had to leave the house to “drop the bomb,” you may have to do it again.
The Vacuum is the Best First Step in How to Get Rid of Fleas
Fleas react to stimuli like movement. A vacuum will get them hopping and you will have a chance to reduce their numbers by sucking them straight into a cannister or bag (in which you’ve cleverly placed a flea collar, to kill any prisoners). A good idea may be to run a steam cleaner over the carpet, too. The heat will kill unborn adults in the larva and pupa stage.
These steps will get the fleas active and following up the process with a chemical assault is a good one-two punch. Don’t forget to do the same to your exposed furniture, curtains and rugs.
Don’t Forget the Yard
If you now understand the first steps of how to get rid of fleas inside the home, don’t stop. These insects came from outside, remember. They need an incentive to leave, or else they’ll be back. Prevention is always a good start. Wear work clothing outside when doing yard work and remove them before coming inside. Deliver them straight to the laundry!
Practice a “clean yard” lifestyle that will reduce the likelihood fleas will claim your yard as their home. Remove piles of tree trimmings, grass clippings or extra mulch. Keep your pets away from areas fleas are attracted to, like shady, moist and warm spots. Spot treat these areas for an extra measure of protection that an untreated area would not otherwise have.
One Last Strategy
Finally, when considering the very best way how to get rid of fleas, it is best to consult a professional. Removing fleas can be frustrating and time-consuming. It can expose you or your family to chemicals and without the proper training, this could be hazardous. The time lost and risk of treating your home and yard for flea infestation is measurable, and the argument to leave the job to experts is a solid one. One Two Tree is very well versed in how to get rid of fleas, and we do it all year long in South Florida. Our technicians know where to look and how to approach flea extermination in your home, and they’ll take the time to explain the plan in easy terms. Call One Two Tree for a free quote and watch those fleas…well, flee.