How To Detect Fleas In Your House

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Dog scratching a flea bite

No one wants to deal with these annoying bothersome pests, and here in Central Florida, they are no laughing matter. Maybe you’ve noticed your furry friend scratching a little more than usual, or you saw dark spots on your carpet. Is it time to call in pest control, or are you simply just being paranoid? Read on and find out the best ways to detect a flea infestation, how to know if they are bothering your pets and what you can do to take action.

What Are Fleas?

Fleas are small, wingless insects that survive by feeding on animal or human blood. These parasitic creatures are oval and flat and approximately 0.13 inches in length. Their flat bodies allow them to move swiftly along surfaces seeking and finding a host. Once they reach their destination, the tiny hairs on their bodies enable them to cling to their prey.

Are Fleas Dangerous?

Despite their size, fleas are considered dangerous because not only does their bite cause discomfort and irritation, they often carry diseases that affect both humans and our beloved pets. Diseases that affect humans include:

  • Murine typhus
  • Cat scratch disease
  • Plaque
  • If accidentally ingested, infected fleas often carry tapeworms.

For pets, fleas can be extremely irritating, causing some to develop allergic reactions called Flea Allergy Dermatitis. Small or young pets are especially vulnerable, suffering significant blood loss if a flea is overly hungry. Fleas can consume 15 times their body weight in blood, sparking amenia in some pets if bitten extensively.

What Causes A Flea Infestation?

Fleas live and breed in warm moist areas, including the tall, shaded areas of your lawn. When your beloved pet goes outside, fleas may hop onto your pet's fur seeking shelter on their underbody. Now they can sneak a ride into your home for better warmth and comfort. The fleas then breed rapidly, laying eggs inside your pet's fur. The loosely attached eggs fall off and drop into your home, hatching more fleas in your carpet, bedding, and furniture. 

And don’t think you are safe if you have no animals. Even homes without pets can obtain fleas. These unruly hitchhikers may gain entry through a number of ways, including:

  • Old or used furniture.
  • Mice or other rodents.
  • Visiting wildlife in your yard, including rabbits, raccoons, and squirrels.
  • Second-hand clothes.
  • Cracks in your floors and windows.
  • And more!

Signs Your Pet Has Fleas

As much as we wish they could, our pets can’t talk. Therefore they can’t tell us when something is wrong. Being covered in fleas is not comfortable and is often irritating. Flea bites are red and bothersome and usually found behind the neck, ears, and belly. If your pet is experiencing discomfort, look for these other telltale signs your pet has fleas. 

Excessive Scratching

Itching, scratching, and biting of the skin are often the first signs your pet has fleas. If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, check their fur, especially around their head, neck, and hindquarters. 

Pale Gums

Pale or white gums are a sign of many things, including shock, blood clotting disorders, and anemia. If your dog's or cat's gums are not the usual pink, they should be; check their fur for other signs of a flea infestation. 

Loss of Fur

When pets scratch or lick excessively, it can cause fur loss in areas and bald patches. You may also notice reddened areas of the skin. Even if you don't spot any fleas, you may discover small brown or black specks that look like pepper on their fur. 

Use A Flea Comb

To check for fleas, use a flea comb to pull back and separate the fur. Inspect the skin for red, irritated skin and dark specs. If you spot something tiny that moves, it’s probably a flea. If dark specks are present, take a white tissue or paper towel and pick up a few. Drop a splash of water on top of them. If they turn reddish-brown, they are flea dirt. 

Signs of a Flea Infestation In Your House

If you suspect a flea infestation in your home, here are things to look out for:

Finding Fleas

The first sign of having fleas is seeing them. If you sight fleas on you or your pet or find eggs inside your carpet, there is a big chance there are more. Fleas prefer to lay their eggs in dark, warm places, including our carpeting; therefore, start here first. Run your hands or comb through the fibers and look for eggs and droppings. 

Flea Bites

Fleas are parasitic and need hosts to survive. This means that if they are in your home, you will probably have bites. Flea bites look like small, red, raised bumps and typically appear around your ankles, often with a punctured hole in the center.

Flea Dirt

As mentioned, finding specks of brown or black dots that look like pepper on or around your pet or their bedding is probably flea dirt. Flea dirt is actually flea feces turned dark from the blood they've consumed.

Flea Eggs

Flea eggs have a soft shell with an off-white color. They appear to look like a grain of salt. These can mostly be found inside your carpet, on pet bedding, inside floor cracks, and on your pet's fur. 

DIY Flea Tests

If you want to be sure before taking action, you can try a few do-it-yourself tests that will solidify whether or not you have a flea infestation. 

White Sock Test

Starting with the white sock test, grab a pair and pull them up to your calves. Walk around on the carpet throughout your home and shuffle your feet. Because fleas are attracted to heat, if they are there, you will discover black or brown specks on your socks when completed. 

Water and Lamp Test

To utilize this test, you will need to grab a lamp, a bowl, water, and dish soap. Fill the bowl with warm water. Add a splash of dish detergent. Next, place the bowl on the floor and shine a light over it. If fleas are present, they will be attracted to the light, hop up in the air, and land in the water. 

Call Flea Exterminators

Your home is your personal private space. You should not have to share it with pesky insects, including fleas. Our year-round pest control program includes recurring inspections and treatments targeting specific areas of your home. We offer two different home pest control packages. Allow our trained professionals to protect your home and family. Call 352-515-9826 today or visit our website for your free estimate.

When Is Flea Season?

Here in Central Florida, fleas are active year-round. Our subtropical climate allows fleas to feed and reproduce during all seasons. They are also most active around dusk before the sun goes down.

How Long Does It Take Fleas To Infest Your Home?

One single flea can lay up to 50 eggs in one day. As your pet moves around, flea eggs can disperse into your surroundings, including your carpet, upholstery, and furniture. Because the eggs hatch into pupae in just ten days, they usually emerge as adult fleas in one or two weeks. This means an infestation can happen before you know why your pet is scratching. 

Even more concerning is the fact that flea pupae can stay in their cocoons for months before maturing and infesting your house or pet weeks later.

How Should I Treat a Flea Bite?

While flea bites go away on their own, you can treat the itchy, annoying sting with over-the-counter anti-itch creams and antihistamines. First, wash the irritated skin with mild soap and water and avoid scratching the area as much as possible. If you notice signs of an infection, seek treatment from your doctor.

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