Once a flea has emerged from the cocoon, it will need to begin feeding from a host within a few hours. Shortly after the first meal, adult fleas will breed and begin laying eggs within a few days. Female fleas are not able to lay eggs until they obtain a blood meal.
New adult fleas have a flat bodied appearance and are very small and dark in color. Once they have had a chance to feed off your pet, they will become larger and lighter in color, taking on the more recognizable flea shape. Adult fleas account for less than 5 percent of the entire flea population in a home. They spend the majority of their time living on the host while they feed, breed, and lay eggs, and can live anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months on the host animal.
Use your knowledge of the flea life cycle to eliminate an infestation. Treat the environment properly by vacuuming regularly for several weeks and thoroughly washing bedding and toys in hot soapy water to remove eggs, larvae, and pupae. Remember to seal and remove vacuum bags after a cleaning session. You can even encourage faster emergence of the remaining pupae with a humidifier and an increase in the home temperature. Once all the hibernating pupae have emerged, you can make sure they are all destroyed. The household can be (cautiously) treated with sprays and foggers.
Treat the adult fleas living on your pet with shampoos, sprays, dips, or spot-on medications. If you have any questions or concerns, especially in regards to your pet’s health or age, your veterinarian can help you make the best decision for treating your pet.
Fleas can be difficult to eliminate, but if you are vigilant and use the correct chemicals in a safe and effective manner, you will be victorious. Just be sure to treat all the areas where your pet spends time, including the car and yard.
Image: ducttape30 / via Flickr
An insect that has hatched from an egg but has not yet reached the pupal stage