The Flea Life Cycle and How It Guides Effective Flea Control and Prevention.



A flea larva - part of the fleas life cycle that takes place in the pet's environment.Flea infestation is one of the great banes in life for many pet and poultry owners.
These rather-common insect parasites pose a variety of problems for pets and pet owners including:

  • flea bites - adult fleas bite pets and humans, causing pain, redness and itching of the bite site;
  • flea allergy dermatitis - pets who are severely allergic to flea saliva can become so itchy (pruritic) as a result of flea bites that they literally tear their skin and fur apart with their scratching and chewing activities;
  • coat damage - breeding and showing pets (e.g. poultry, cats) can be penalised in the show ring if their fur (or plumage) is damaged by scratching and over-grooming activities or if it bears the evidence (fleas, flea dirt) of flea parasite infestation;
  • skin disease - flea infested skin that is traumatized by flea bites and by animal scratching and biting activities can become secondarily infected with nasty, itchy, skin bacteria;
  • anemia - heavy flea infestations can suck so much blood from their animal host that the host can weaken and even die from severe blood loss (anaemia);
  • infectious disease transmission - many infectious diseases including: feline infectious anemia (FIA or Mycoplasma hemofelis), bubonic plague (Yersinia pestis), flea tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum), Dipetalonema reconditum, feline parvovirus, murine typhus (Rickettsia typhi), Rickettsia felis, rabbit myxomatosis and certain avian (bird) blood diseases can be transmitted from animal to animal by flea parasites.
  • annoyance - most owners don't like to see or hear their pets scratching, particularly at night when the repetitive 'chink, chink, chink' of a collar or chain keeps them awake;
  • gross-out factor - the sight of insects crawling through a pet's fur is revolting and off-putting to many people who see such infestations as a sign of 'dirtiness' (even though perfectly clean pets can and do get fleas of course);
  • zoonosis - fleas from pets can infest humans, inflicting painful bites and causing itchiness of the skin and scalp.

Because of the many problems posed by fleas (above), there is, naturally, a lot of vested interest in the control and prevention of flea parasites, both in the home and commercially.Many millions of dollars are spent each year in the manufacture and production of newer, safer, better flea control and flea killing products and, in their turn, pet owners and commercial producersof animals (animal breeders, animal showers, poultry farmers, rabbit producers and so on) spend even moremillions buying these newer, better, safer flea prevention products in the hope of preventing and/or eradicating their flea infestation problems.

In order for pet owners and commercial animal producers to fully grasp how it is that flea infestations can become so large and so persistent, it is important for themto understand the flea life cycle. In particular, they need to know how and where theflea parasite reproduces and also where the juvenile forms (egg, larva, pupa) of the lifecycle hide outand evade treatment. The flea life cycle is very important to know if a flea infestationis to be controlled adequately and permanently (after all, much of the flea life cycle occurs in the animal's environment, not on the animal itself, and so environmental flea control is very important). The fleas life cycle can provide important clues as to why a particular flea control regime is not working and an explanation as to why the fleas keep on coming back. The flea life cycle forms the basis of it all for it is the complete cycle of a flea's existence: from egg to larval stage (three larval stages) to pupa to adult stage, to egg stage again with the next generation.

Stopping an infestation of fleas from persisting involves breaking the flea life cycle at any pointin the flea life cycle chain: from egg to larval stage (three larval stages) to pupa to adult stage(see diagram in section 1). The more points that can be broken in that chain or lifecycle, the faster flea control will be achieved and the more permanent the results will be.

This flea life cycle page contains a detailed, but simple-to-understand explanation of thecomplete flea life cycle. It comes complete with a full flea life cycle diagram for ease of understanding. As an added bonus, the significance of each stage of the flea life cycle and how itcan be managed and manipulated to achieve better flea control and flea prevention is also discussedin full. This page should contain plenty of information for those of you interestedin preventing flea infestations from establishing and also for those of you looking tocontrol pre-existing problem flea infestations on pets, inside the home (e.g. carpet fleas) and outside the house, in the yard, lawn or garden. All flea control revolves around an understanding of the flea life cycle. Enjoy.







The Flea Life Cycle and How It Guides Effective Flea Control and Prevention - Contents:

1) The flea life cycle diagram - a complete step-by-step diagram of animal host flea infestation; flea reproduction and environmental flea contamination with juvenile flea life cycle stages (eggs, larvae and pupae).

2) The fleas life cycle discussed - the flea life cycle diagram explained in full.

2a) Fleas life cycle 1 - The adult flea lays her eggs on the host animal.
2b) Fleas life cycle 2 - The egg falls off the animal's skin and into the local environment of the host animal.
2c) Fleas life cycle 3 - The flea egg hatches, releasing a first stage (stage 1) flea larva.
2d) Fleas life cycle 4 - The first stage flea larva develops and grows and undergoes two molts to become a final stage flea larva.
2e) Fleas life cycle 5 - The final stage flea larva spins a cocoon and becomes a pupa.
2f) Fleas life cycle 6 - The cocoon hatches and an adult flea comes out, looking for mates and a host animal to feed on.
2g) Fleas life cycle 7 - The adult male and female fleas jump onto the host animal to feed, mate and lay eggs.


The significance of each step in the flea life cycle as it relates to the treatment, control and prevention of flea infestations in pets and commercial animal production units is also explained in detail in this section.

3) Your Flea and Flea Control Links.







1) The flea life cycle diagram:

This is the fleas life cycle diagram of Ctenocephalides. This flea life cycle drawing would also apply to range of other flea types.

Flea life cycle diagram: This is a diagram of the flea lifecycle as it applies to the majority of flea species types.the flea life cycle diagram is divided into two sections: a white section and a grey section, which represent respectively the stages of the flea life cycle that occur on the host animal's skin (in this case: the dog's skin) and in the host animal's environment (in this case: the carpet of the house, the dog's bedding, the dog's kennel and so on).

The timing of the various stages:

  • Egg - The flea egg hatches in 2-21 days, depending on environmental conditions.
  • Three larval stages - The larval stages grow and undergo their moults over about 9-15 days.
  • The pupal stage (cocoon) - The cocoon is the crux of flea infestation persistence in the house-hold. It generally hatches in 1-2 weeks, but can last up to a year.
  • The adult flea - Adult fleas can live for some weeks (maximum of about 2 months if no host is present) in ideal, cool, moist conditions.

This particular diagram illustrates the life cycle of the dog or cat flea (Ctenocephalides canis and C. felis), however, the diagram would also be appropriate to a vast range of other flea types, including:Echidnophaga gallinacea (the poultry "sticktight" flea - discussed in the paragraph below); the rabbitfleas - Cediopsylla simplex and Spilopsyllus cuniculi; the rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis); the human flea (Pulex irritans) and various other flea species. The main difference between these other flea life cycle situations and that of Ctenocephalides (pictured) would be the host animal species infested by the flea (e.g. the rabbit host instead of the dog for Cediopsylla simplex and Spilopsyllus cuniculi) and the nature of theenvironment in which the flea larvae and pupal stages underwent development (e.g. the dirt rabbit burrowinstead of the household carpet in the case of Cediopsylla simplex and Spilopsyllus cuniculi).

Author's note - In the case of Echidnophaga gallinacea, the poultry stickfast or sticktightflea, the male and female fleas mate in the flea's environment (soon after hatching from their pupal cocoons), not on the host itself as occurs with many other flea species. After mating has occurred, the female flea attaches herself strongly to the skin of a passing animal host and remains in that one place for about 6 weeks, feeding and laying eggs. She does not move from the spot she has chosen. The eggs she produces drop from the animal host's skin and into the soil environment where they undergo hatching, a 2-4 week larval development period and pupation. Echidnophaga pupation occurs in a burrow underground and hatching of the adult fleaoccurs in around 2-3 weeks. The total Echidnophaga flea life cycle is about 4-6 weeks long.



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2) The fleas life cycle discussed - the flea life cycle diagram explained in full.

The following subsections (subsections 2a - 2g) of this flea life cycle page contain detailed, but simple-to-understand information about each of the steps outlined inthe fleas life cycle diagram above (section 1). The following discussion of each of the individual steps in the flea life cycle aims to add more to your understanding of host fleainfestation; flea reproduction and how severe environmental flea contamination and subsequent host animal flea re-infestation occurs and builds-up.



As an added bonus, the significance of each stage of the flea life cycle and how eachstage can be managed and manipulated to achieve better long-term flea control and flea prevention is also discussed in full in each subsection. These sections should contain plenty of information for those of you interested in preventing flea infestations from establishing and also for those of you looking to control pre-existing problem flea infestations on pets; inside the home (e.g. carpet fleas) and outside the house in the yard, lawn or garden. Knowing the flea life cycle is very importantif flea control measures are to be implemented successfully in a household or commercial premises.



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2a) Flea Life Cycle 1 - The adult flea lays her eggs on the host animal:

Flea Life Cycle 1 - The adult flea lays her eggs on the host animalIn the case of Ctenocephalides (the dog or cat flea), both the male and female adult fleas are present on the host animal's skin, living, feeding and breeding there.Of the two sexes, however, it is the female flea that is the bigger blood-sucker, drinking farmore of the host's blood than any of the male fleas that climb on board. Conversely, in certain other flealife cycles (e.g. Echidnophaga), the adult male flea remains in the host's environment and only the adult female flea actually inhabits the furcoat of the host animal. Either way, the most important thing to remember is that it is the female flea who is the major animal hostparasite and the predominant blood-sucker of the two flea sexes.

The main reason why the female flea needs to parasitize the host animal is because, after breeding with the male flea, she needs a blood meal in order for her eggs to develop fully. Without a host, adult female fleas will starve and be unable to produce any viable eggs.

The adult flea lays her eggs on the host's skin. She does not bother getting off the host to lay them. The flea eggs are shiny, white, ovoid eggs, about 0.5mm in length.



The significance of this flea life cycle stage with regard to flea control and flea prevention:

In order to break this link of the flea life cycle chain, the adult fleas on the pet have to be removed and/or any flea eggs that they lay have to be rendered sterileand unable to hatch. Adult fleas can be killed and otherwise removed from the petchemically or manually (steps 4 and 5); the number of eggs in the environmentcan be reduced by environmental rest (step 1) and the flea eggs can be rendered sterilethrough the use of insect growth inhibitors and various chemicals that sterilize the femaleflea (steps 2 and 3). All of these options for breaking this part of the flea life cycleare discussed below.




1) Environmental rest:
Because the female flea is unable to reproduce or lay any eggs without the presence of a host animalin which to derive a blood meal from, adult, egg and larval flea numbers can be greatly reduced by depopulating and resting an area, which hosts have previously occupied, fora period of time. This means removing all of the host animals (e.g. cats and dogs)from the infested environment for a long enough period of time that any eggs and larvaein the environment become pupae and any newly-hatched adult fleas in the environmentstarve to death. Note that, under optimal conditions of coolness and humidity, just-hatched adult fleas can survive for up to 2 months, so this period of environmental depopulation should thus beat least 2 months long (3-4 months if playing it safe).

Author's note: As will be explained later (in sections 2e and 2f), the flea cocoon stage of the fleas life cycle can lay dormant for a long period of time (up to 1 year), waiting for a host animal to come along to trigger it to hatch. Resting the environment of hosts for only 2-4 months will kill off (starve) the environmental adult fleas and deplete the numbers of any viable eggs and larvae in the area (these will have progressed to the cocoon stage by 2 months), however, it will do nothing to prevent a re-emergence of adult fleas when the host animal finally returns,if there are flea cocoons present in the environment. The environment therefore needs to be thoroughly treated to get rid of any cocoons (flea pupae) before a clean host (obviously, the host animal must also be clean of fleas before being reintroduced to a de-fleaed environment)is reintroduced into the rested environment after 2-4 months.


2) Egg hatching inhibitors:
The female flea is unable to produce or lay any eggs without having first consumed a blood meal from the host animal.

  • If host animals (cats or dogs) are treated with the systemic flea control product: Lufenuron (tradenames include - Sentinel and Program), this chemical will be taken up into the female flea's body as it drinks the host animal's blood. Lufenuron is an insect growth inhibitor that damages the development of the larval fleas that form inside of the flea eggs, causing these larvae to be unable to hatch. It does not kill the adult fleas, just their offspring.
  • Another canine flea product, Cyromazine (tradenames include - Decaflea), is also an insect growth inhibitor product that works by preventing flea eggs from hatching.
  • Likewise, the canine and feline flea product, Pyriproxifen (tradenames include - Duogard Band for Cats, Duogard Band for Dogs, Duogard Line On for Dogs, Protect-a-Dog Double Impact), is also an insect growth inhibitor that prevents flea eggs (and also flea larvae) from developing. If used in flea products targeted towards controlling fleas in the host's environment, Pyriproxifen (and its relative, Fenoxycarb) is sunlight stable and should last up to a year before needing reapplication.
  • The drug, S-methoprene, is also contained in many flea prevention products (e.g. Frontline Plus) and has a similar mode of action against flea egg viability. If used in flea products targeted towards controlling fleas in the host's environment, please remember that S-methoprene is sunlight sensitive and should be reapplied at least every 30 weeks.
  • Revolution (active-ingredient selamectin) also has an inhibitory effect against flea eggs, rendering them sterile.

3) Female flea sterilisation:
The female flea is unable to produce or lay any eggs if she is infertile. If host animals (cats or dogs) are treated with the flea control product: Pyriproxifen (tradenames include - Duogard Band for Cats, Duogard Band for Dogs, Duogard Line On for Dogs, Protect-a-Dog Double Impact), this chemical will be taken up into the female flea's body as it drinks the host animal's blood. The chemical sterilises and damages the eggs within the female flea's body, rendering her infertile.


4) Adult flea killers:
In order to break the flea life cycle, adult fleas that reach the pet must be killed quickly - before they can lay any eggs. Read labels carefully to ensure that adult flea products are safe for your pet.Adult female and male fleas are required in order for flea egg production to occur and for subsequent environmental contamination with eggs, flea larvae and flea pupae (cocoons) to occur. No reproducing adult fleas eventually means no flea life cycle and no fleas on the host animal/s and no fleas in the house, carpet, commercial premises, yard or lawn.

If host animals are treated with a good flea control product that kills all adult fleas within 2 days ofthe flea/s reaching the host animal, then no flea eggs will be produced (after all, it takes 2 days for adult fleas to create eggs after jumping into a host and feeding on its blood). Many flea products are on themarket, which kill adult fleas very rapidly (many kill adult fleas well within 24 hours of them touching the host animal).

Routine, preventative application of an adulticide flea control product whenever a 'clean' (flea-free)pet goes into an environment with fleas or a high likelihood of encountering flea-carrying hosts (e.g. dog-shows, boarding kennels, agility trials, bushland, wilderness with wild and feral animals,multiple-dog and multi-cat households, farmland etc.) can prevent a non-flea-infested household from ever having fleas brought into the home by the dog or cat. The adult fleas die immediately upon contact with the host animal's treated coat and never make it into the home to lay any eggs.

The "Big 5" Adult Flea Killers:

  • Nitenpyram (tradenames include Capstar) - This product kills adult fleas fantastically well as a once-off, oral tablet. The product is often used by vets as a fast knock-down to kill large infestations of adult fleas on dogs and cats. Nitenpyram starts to kill fleas within 30 minutes of dosing the pet. The product is short-lasting, however, and needs to be given daily to have any ongoing effect (unlike many of the spot-ons below, which last for up to 1 month). Pet owners often dose pets with Nitenpyram once or twice to get rid of large flea infestations (massive flea burdens) on their pet and then follow up with a monthly flea control product for ongoing flea protection. Nitenpyram is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 4 weeks of age so long as they weigh over 2 pounds.
  • Imidacloprid (tradenames include - Advantage Duo, Advantage for Dogs and Cats, Advantix, Advocate) - This product kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Imidacloprid is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the body within 12 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. Its effect lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" is safe to use on kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age (Bayer the manufacturer says the product can be used in pups and kittens from day 1, but that only treatment of the lactating bitch is needed to ensure that the pups/kittens are covered). "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" can also be used in pregnant dogs and cats as well as rabbits and ferrets (exercise caution with dosing). "Advantix" is not safe for cats. Advantage DUO is no longer manifactured.
  • Fipronil (tradenames include - Frontline Spray, Frontline Top Spot, Frontline Plus) - kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Fipronil is a very safe product (distributes over the body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. The effect of the 'spot-on' formula lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Frontline Spray" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 2 days of age (be careful of correct dosing, though, if used in the very young) and needs to be reapplied more regularly than the spot-on. "Frontline Top Spot" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 8 weeks of age. Fipronil is toxic to rabbits and ferrets.
  • Selamectin (tradenames include - Revolution) - kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Selamectin is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the host's body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. It lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Revolution" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age. Animals should be tested for heartworm if the product is to be administered to pets over 6 months of age, which have not previously been on heart worm prevention. It is safe to give to rabbits and ferrets and birds, including chickens and other poultry (ask your vet for doses and for with-holding times on meat and eggs, if using the product on production birds).
  • Spinosad (tradenames include - Comfortis) - This relatively new product kills adult fleas fantastically well as an oral tablet. The product has a fast knock-down effect to kill large infestations of adult fleas on dogs. Spinosad starts to kill fleas within 30 minutes of dosing the dog. The product is also long-lasting, maintaining its effect for up to 1 month after dosing. "Comfortis" is safe to use on puppies over 14 weeks of age. It should not be given to pregnant animals. It is not registered for cats. It also should not be given to animals with allergies to pork or those that have a history of epilepsy.
Note that some of these products (especially the spot-ons) will require up to 24 hours to distribute all over the host's body (and therefore kill all of the fleas) if they have never been used on the pet before.


Other adulticide (adult flea killer) flea control options:
  • Organophosphate-based or carbamate-based flea rinses, flea sprays, flea powders and flea collars (active ingredients include - coumaphos, chlorpyrifos, flumethrin, fenthion, maldison, diazinon, temephos, cythioate, carbaryl and others) - will kill adult fleas as a once-off treatment. Flea control products containing these insecticides often need to be applied regularly to have any reliable ongoing effect against adult fleas and many of these products have the potential to be quite toxic to pet owners and bathed animals (pet owners should wear gloves when using) if applied frequently. Organophosphate-based or carbamate-based flea powders are occasionally used to treat fleas in poultry. Most, but not all, of the organophosphate-based or carbamate-based flea control products are toxic to cats, even in skin application or flea collar form, so please read the flea product labels closely.
  • Permethrin-based flea rinses, flea sprays, flea powders and flea collars (active ingredients include - permethrin, cypermethrin) - will kill adult fleas as a once-off treatment. Flea control products containing these insecticides often need to be applied regularly to have any reliable ongoing effect against adult fleas and many of these products have the potential to be quite toxic to pet owners and bathed animals (pet owners should wear gloves when using) if applied frequently. Permethrin-based flea control products are often used to manage poultry flea infestations. Some, but not all, of the permethrin-based flea control products are toxic to cats, even in skin application or flea collar form, so please read the flea product labels closely.
  • Pyrethrin product flea rinses, flea sprays, flea powders and flea collars (active ingredients include - pyrethrin) - will kill adult fleas as a once-off application. Flea control products containing this insecticide often need to be applied regularly to have any reliable ongoing effect against adult fleas and many of these products have the potential to be quite toxic to pet owners and bathed animals (pet owners should wear gloves when using) if applied frequently. Pyrethrin is often used in the treatment and control of flea infestations on poultry. Although most of the pyrethrin-based flea control products available on the market are not toxic to kittens and puppies over 3 months of age, some of them will produce toxic side effects in some cats. Please read the flea control product labels closely to be sure.
  • Piperonyl butoxide, contained in some flea rinses, flea sprays, flea powders and flea collars, does have some insect killing and flea repellant properties. Although the insecticide has a low toxicity for animals, it is generally not that useful or effective at killing fleas on its own. It tends to be mostly used as an adjunct to permethrin or pyrethrin in many flea control products.
It is important to note that many of these organophosphate-based, carbamate-based, permethrin-basedand pyrethrin-based flea control products do not have a long-acting effect (only days in some cases) and will require regular retreatment to maintain an adult flea killing action. Regular reapplication increases therisks of toxicity to both pets and their owners. Additionally, some of these product formulations do not distribute their active ingredients all over the pet's coat, ensuring thatsome adult fleas will still be able to find safe harbors on the treated host's body to live and feed and breed. Flea collars (the bane of all vets) are a good example of this - they kill all of the fleas on the front half of the pet, but do nothing to the fleas on the animal's bottom, thighs and tail. Hence, the flea life cycle is able to continue and environmental contamination with eggs, larvae and pupae is able to occur.


5) Regular combing with a flea comb in short-haired animals:
Grooming short haired animals (e.g. short-coated dogs and cats) systematically from top to tail with a fine-toothed flea comb can remove over 80% of adult fleas from that animal's body. The process is time consuming and must be done carefully, ensuring that every patch of skin on the animal's body is groomed out, but it can help to reduce adult flea numbers on the coat dramatically. Reducing adult fleas on theanimal's coat will reduce the number of flea eggs laid and those fleas' contribution to the flea life cycle and the overall flea population.



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2b) Flea Life Cycle 2 - The egg falls off the fur into the environment of the host animal:

 Flea Life Cycle 2 - The egg falls off the fur into the environment of the host animal.The white flea eggs are laid on the host animal's skin, however, they usually fall off the hostanimal's coat and into the host animal's environment prior to hatching. These flea eggs (and the flea larvaethat subsequently hatch out of them) contaminate the host animal's environment. As expected, environmental flea egg numbers and environmental flea infestations are generally most concentrated in regions of the household where the flea-infested pet spends most of its time.Common sites of egg and flea concentration include: pet beds and pet bedding; owner beds (if the pet sleeps on the human beds); carpet (carpet fleas or house flea infestations are a huge nuisance because they can be difficult to get rid of); pet houses or kennels; human couches and outdoor settings(if the pet has access to these furnishings) and cool, moist, humid, outdoor regions of the yard that the pet spends lots of time in (e.g. garden beds, places under the house or verandah and so on).

Author's note: Because cats will tend to patrol and take-over an entire house, including amazingly elevated places (e.g. the tops of wardrobes and cupboards) and hidden, often-enclosed places (e.g. the inside of pantries, walk-in-robes, linen closets and so on), every room and part of a housethat an indoors, flea-affected cat has access to should be considered contaminated with flea eggs.This can make flea control in a house with flea infested cats very difficult and expensive to manage.

Author's note: Because it only takes about 2 days for flea eggs to hatch, once they have been laid, some flea eggs will manage to avoid falling into the pet's environment and will hatch on the pet's coat. It is not that uncommon to have flea larvae (small flea maggots or grubs) turn up on the animal's coat. These flea larvae will usually drop off the host animal's coat soon after hatching and enter the host's environment to continue the "off-host" part of the fleas life cycle.

Author's note: It is VERY important to consider the environment of the hostwhen attempting to eradicate and eliminate fleas from a host animal. A huge part of the flea life cycleoccurs off the host animal. If an animal has adult fleas on its coat, then the pet's environment has many more eggs, larvae and pupal fleas just waiting to develop into adults and hop on board. You must treatthe host and the host's environment to get rid of fleas.





The significance of this flea life cycle stage with regard to flea control and flea prevention:

In order to break this link of the flea life cycle chain: the adult fleas, which are responsiblefor laying the eggs, must be destroyed prior to reaching egg-laying capacity; any flea eggs that the adult fleas have produced have to be rendered sterile and unable to hatch and any viable eggs that do manage to reach the environment need to be removed or destroyed prior to hatching. Adult fleas can be killed prior to egg production using a range of insecticide flea control products(step 1); the number of viable eggs in the pet's environment can be reduced by various means of environmental decontamination (steps 2, 3, 4 and 6) and the flea eggs laid by the adult fleas on the coat can be rendered sterile through the use of insect growth inhibitors (step 5). All of these options for breaking this part of the flea life cycle are discussed below.



1) Environmental rest:
When trying to break the flea life cycle, all animals in the house need to be treated as does the host environment.Because the female flea generally lays her eggs on or in the presence of a host animal (she needs a blood mealin order for the eggs to develop), egg numbers in the host's environment can be greatly reduced by removing the host animal from the environment for about 3 weeks; treating that animalwith a good quality adult flea killer (the Big 5 - above) and waiting until all of the adultfleas on the host have died before reintroducing the animal back into the original environment. The reasonfor the three week environmental rest period is that it can take up to three weeks for anyeggs, already present on the host animal's coat, to hatch out into larvae (which willnormally be killed by topical spot-on treatments mentioned in the Big 5). If animalsare re-introduced back into the environment prematurely, there is a possibility that long-lastingeggs that have not yet hatched could fall into the environment and contaminate it.

The three week rest period will ensure that any adult fleas present on the host animal will bekilled off by the adulticide therapy (so that no more eggs can be laid on the host). It willalso ensure that any eggs present in the host's environment and on the host itself will have hatchedinto larvae such that, in theory, there should no longer be any flea eggs on the host or in the host's environmentby the time the animal returns to the environment in question.

Author's note: Resting the environment of hosts for only 3 weeks will deplete the host's skinand the host's environment of viable flea eggs (these will have progressed to the flea larvae stage by 3 weeks). The three week rest period will not, however, do anything to deplete the numbers of flea larvae, flea pupae and environmentally-living adult fleas in the host's environment. Environmentally-living adult fleas can survive for up to 2 months without a host animal to feed on - they will be waiting for the host when it returns, though theyshould die upon contact with the host animal if that animal has been treated correctly with a flea preventativeproduct. More problematically, as will be explained in sections 2e and 2f, the flea cocoon stage (pupal stage) of the flea life cycle can lay dormant for a long period of time (up to 1 year), waiting for a host animal to come along to induce it to hatch. Resting the environment such that it is free of all host animals for only 3 weeks willdeplete egg numbers, but it will do nothing to prevent a re-emergence of adult fleas when the host animal finally returns, if there are flea cocoons present in the environment.

The environment (carpet, yard, pet bedding, pet kennel, human couches and so on) therefore needs to be thoroughly treated whilst the host animal is away to get rid of any larvae and cocoons (flea pupae) before the clean host (obviously, the host animal must also be clean of fleas before being reintroduced to a de-fleaed environment) is reintroduced into the rested environment. The animal itself should be treated with a flea control preventative (BIG 5) just prior to re-entering the environment so that any newly hatched adult fleasthat do manage to hatch out of missed, surviving cocoons will not be able to access thehost's blood in order to keep the flea life cycle going.


2) Physical egg removal from the host environment by vacuuming:
Never underestimate the value of simple, frequent, thorough vacuuming in helping to get rid offleas from a dog or cat's environment. Flea eggs and larvae in carpets, couches, human and pet beds and other indoorsareas can be sucked away by regular vacuuming, reducing the environmental flea burden overall. All regions of the house should be vacuumed, where possible, but important emphasis should be placed on carpets, soft furniture (e.g. couches), floors underneath furniture, floors underneathremovable rugs and mats and gaps under side boards. Using a vacuum cleaner with a beater bar can help to shake flea eggs, larvae and cocoons out from places deeperwithin the carpet proper and improve the vacuum uptake of these flea life cycle stages. Aftereach vacuuming, the vacuum bag should be disposed of, lest fleas start hatching and breeding insideof the vacuum bag!

Don't forget the car! A significant source of reservoir environmental flea infestation and subsequenthost animal reinfestation is the car. Flea infested animals drop eggs into the car during car trips - these flea eggs can hatch into larvae and go through the entire flea life cycle inside of the car. As it is often not a good idea to use pesticides inside of a car (pesticidesand insecticides can release toxic fumes that are poisonous to people when the car interior heats up) frequent vacuuming is one of the safer ways of ridding the car of flea eggs, larvae and cocoons. In very hot, dry climates (e.g. Australia in Summer), persistent flea infestation of a car is not as likely because the car, when it is parked outside, will usually heat up to temperature levels beyond that of larvae and pupae survival.


3) Physical egg removal from the host's environment by removal and replacementof contaminated regions:
In long-term, heavy flea infestations the pet's bedding, and various other cool, moist, indoors regions where the pet spends most of its time (like the couch and the carpet), can become veryheavily infested with eggs, larvae and pupal stages. These places may be very difficult to get the fleas out ofif they are heavily infested. Consequently, some owners are forced reduce their house flea populations by removing these environmental flea life cycle havens altogether and replacing them with clean ones - new carpet, new pet bedding, new couch and so on.

Even better, instead of replacing the old infested carpet and couch with more of the same (i.e. another flea-attractive carpet or couch to reinfest anew), many owners assist their flea elimination efforts by replacing their old carpets and couches and the like with floors, seating and bedding made from easy-to-clean, flea-unfriendlymaterials. Flea unfriendly floors that do not support the flea life cycle include: linoleum, slate, stone, varnished floorboards and tiles. Flea unfriendly seating materialsthat do not support the flea life cycle include: non-porous vinyl, plastic and wood. Covering a new couch entirely (including underneath) with a clear plastic cover that is non-permeable to flealife cycle stages (including eggs) will ensure that the couch remains clean and does not becomea nursery for juvenile flea stages.

Author's note - complete removal and replacement of contaminated bedding and carpetand the like is a useful way of dramatically reducing the populations of the off-host stages of the flealife cycle in the host's environment. It will not, however, do much for flea numbers in the long term if thefleas on the host (or hosts) are not eradicated too. Adult flea killing chemicals(the BIG 5 in section 2a) should be used on the host animal/s in conjunction with this environmental replacementmode of flea control, to avoid having the new carpet, new couch and so on re-infested with fleas.

Author's note - removing and replacing an entire dog kennel is probably not warranted, unless thefloor of the kennel and/or its walls are made of a fabric that holds fleas. If the walls and floor of thekennel are made of smooth, hard, easy to wash materials (metal, hard plastic) then only the pet's beddingneeds to be discarded and not the kennel itself. The kennel can be steam cleaned (>35 degrees-Celsius) and/or disinfected with a pyrethrin-containing wash and rinsed, dried and used again. Open-floor kennels standing on grass or soil can be washed likewise and then the kennel should be relocated to a differentregion of the yard, well away from the original location, to let the sun and dry air kill the flealife cycle stages present in the grass and soil of the first area.


4) Reducing environmental egg contamination through careful pet grooming:
Eggs fall from the coat of the flea-infested pet in large numbers during pet grooming and combing sessions. Owners who groom their pets inside run a huge risk of combing massive numbers of flea eggsonto the floor carpet and host environment, therefore, aiding the environmental component of the flea life cycle.

If you are going to groom a flea infested pet, you should groom him or her outside in a bright sunny area, preferably on a day when humidity levels are very low (below 50%). Sunlight, drying and desiccationkills all of the flea life cycle stages and eggs and larvae groomed out into the open sun and dry airshould die rapidly.
Author's note - many owners mistakenly think that their pets get their fleas fromthe sand and soil of their back yards; that fleas live much of their flea life cyclein the dirt itself. The fact is that they don't usually. Unless the sandy, soily regions of the yard are very cool (13-32 degrees-Celsius) and moist (humidity 50-90%) and sun-protected (i.e. covered soil areas under houses, verandahs and thick garden vegetation) and visited by the pet very often, fleas will not usually survive and replicate in outdoor soil. Most of the fleas that infest pet dogs and catscome from the indoors environment or the outdoor pet's bedding, not the dirt of the yard.

Pet owners who elect to groom their pets indoors should groom them on a non-carpet flooring, suchas linoleum, tiles or smooth floor-boards. The region can then be easily vacuumed immediately after the grooming session toremove any fleas, eggs or larvae that might have fallen from the host animal.

Author's note: Another common source of flea egg and flea larvae contamination of outdoor yards and lawns is flea infested stray, feral and wild animal intruders coming into theyard. These animals will drop flea eggs into your yard as they forage about for food and nesting sites. Discouraging these unwelcome flea-carrying creatures from coming into your yard can be an important way of preventing fleas from infesting your lawn and yard and soil. Discouragesuch animals from your turf by:

  • ensuring that there is no food for them - e.g. lock garbage cans so that they are not attractive to critters, don't leave food bowls outside for them, don't leave uneaten pet food and half-chewed bones outside once your pet has finished with them and so on;
  • ensuring that there are no nesting sites available for them (e.g. gaps under sheds, loose woodpiles, old machinery, car bodies, dense garden vegetation, small forest patches, gaps allowing access under houses and verandahs and so on);
  • putting up and maintaining good fences.

5) Egg hatching inhibitors:
The female flea is unable to produce or lay any eggs without having first consumed a blood meal from the host animal.

  • If host animals (cats or dogs) are treated with the systemic flea control product: Lufenuron (tradenames include - Sentinel and Program), this chemical will be taken up into the female flea's body as it drinks the host animal's blood. Lufenuron is an insect growth inhibitor that damages the development of the larval fleas that form inside of the flea eggs, causing these larvae to be unable to hatch. It does not kill the adult fleas, just their offspring.
  • Another canine flea product, Cyromazine (tradenames include - Decaflea), is also an insect growth inhibitor product that works by preventing flea eggs from hatching.
  • Likewise, the canine and feline flea product, Pyriproxifen (tradenames include - Duogard Band for Cats, Duogard Band for Dogs, Duogard Line On for Dogs, Protect-a-Dog Double Impact), is also an insect growth inhibitor that prevents flea eggs (and also flea larvae) from developing. If used in flea products targeted towards controlling fleas in the host's environment, Pyriproxifen (and its relative, Fenoxycarb) is sunlight stable and should last up to a year before needing reapplication.
  • The drug, S-methoprene, is also contained in many flea prevention products (e.g. Zodiac Flea Proof Spray for Cats and Dogs, Frontline Plus, Troy IGR, Quick-Kill Eclipse, Fido's Flea Bomb Insecticidal Fogger) and has a similar mode of action against flea egg viability. If used in flea products targeted towards controlling fleas in the host's environment, please remember that S-methoprene is sunlight sensitive and should be reapplied at least every 30 weeks.
  • Revolution (active-ingredient selamectin) also has an inhibitory effect against flea eggs, rendering them sterile.
Any eggs that fall from the host animal after these products have been used should notbe viable (unable to hatch) and thus not pose an problem of environmental flea contamination.


6) Environmental flea egg dehydration and death, using sodium borate:
Sodium borate compounds are crystalline compounds that have ovicidal (egg killing) and larvicidal (larvae killing) properties. They can be applied to a flea infested environment andare thought to kill flea eggs and flea larvae via a dehydration mechanism (the hypertonic crystals suck the water out of the flea eggs and larvae, resulting in severe dehydration and death ofthese flea life cycle stages). Direct ingestion of the borates by the flea larva also results in deathby dehydration.

Author's note: Some borates can be harmful to pets that ingest them. Cats in particularcan ingest borate salts if they walk across treated floors and pick up the powdery residueson their feet and coats (the cat will later groom or lick the salts off its coat, resultingin ingestion). Read product labels carefully to ensure that they are safe around pets.

The Fleabusters product: "Rx for Fleas Plus Flea Powder" used to only be available as a professionally-applied sodium borate carpet powder by the pest company that invented and utilised it. "Rx for Fleas Plus Flea Powder" is now available as a home-use product for household owners to apply to flea infested environments (e.g. carpet) and comes with a 1 year guarantee of efficacy. I have included a link to their site at the end of this page.


7) The best yard treatment is flea prevention:
It can be quite difficult to get flea life cycle stages out of a large back yard once theyhave become well-established there. Once established, yard flea reservoirs can become a major source of flea reinfestation for pets and indoor regions. The best yardtreatment is prevention - don't let fleas get into the back yard in the first place.

Ensuring that only flea-free animals are permitted into your back yard is a useful way ofpreventing yard flea infestation. Make sure that your pets are treated with flea prevention productsbefore they go anywhere where they could pick up fleas (e.g. grooming salons, wilderness areas, dog clubs, dog shows, cat shows and so on) so that they do not bring fleas back into the yard.Make sure that friends' pets are treated with flea preventatives and that they are free of fleas before they are allowed access to your back yard.

A common source of flea egg and flea larvae contamination of outdoor yards and lawns is flea infested stray, feral and wild animal intruders coming into theyard. These animals will drop flea eggs into your yard as they forage about for food and nesting sites. Discouraging these unwelcome flea-carrying creatures from coming into your yard can be an important way of preventing fleas from infesting your lawn and yard and soil. Discouragesuch animals (e.g. stray and feral cats and dogs) from your turf by:
  • ensuring that there is no food for them - e.g. lock garbage cans so that they are not attractive to critters, don't leave food bowls outside for them, don't leave uneaten pet food and half-chewed bones outside once your pet has finished with them and so on;
  • ensuring that there are no nesting and resting sites available for them (e.g. gaps under sheds, loose woodpiles, old machinery, car bodies, dense garden vegetation, small forest patches, gaps allowing access under houses and verandahs and so on);
  • putting up and maintaining good fences.
  • allowing your flea-free dog outside regularly if you have one (dogs generally discourage stray cats and other wild animals from coming into a yard, provided the presence of a dog does not result in copious amounts of food being left outside).



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2c) Flea Life Cycle 3 - The flea egg hatches, releasing a first stage (stage 1) flea larva.

Flea Life Cycle 3 - The flea egg hatches, releasing a first stage (stage 1) flea larva.After about 2 days (range 2-21 days), depending on environmental conditions, the flea egg hatches torelease a first stage flea larva. This flea larva lives in the host's environment(it is part of the environmental stage of the fleas life cycle), where it feeds on fleadroppings (flea dirt) and dander.

Author's note: Because it only takes about 2 days for flea eggs to hatch, once they have been laid, some flea eggs will manage to avoid falling into the pet's environment and will hatch on the pet's coat. It is not that uncommon to have flea larvae (small flea maggots or grubs) turn up on the animal's coat. These flea larvae will usually drop off the host animal's coat soon after hatching and enter the host's environment to continue the "off-host" part of the flea life cycle.

Author's note: It is VERY important to consider the environment of the hostwhen attempting to eradicate and eliminate fleas from a host animal. A huge part of the flea life cycleoccurs off the host animal. If an animal has adult fleas on its coat, then the pet's environment has many more eggs, larvae and pupal fleas just waiting to develop into adults and hop on board. You must treatthe host and the host's environment to get rid of fleas.





The significance of this flea life cycle stage with regard to flea control and flea prevention:

In order to break this link of the flea life cycle chain: any flea eggs that the adult fleas have laid have to be rendered sterile and unable to hatch and any viable first stage larvae that do manage to hatch out into the host's environment need to be removed or destroyed. First stage flea larvae can be killed using a range of flea control techniques (steps 3 and 5); the number of first stage larvae in the pet's environment can be reduced by various means of environmental decontamination (steps 1 and 2) and the flea eggs laid by the adult fleas on the coat can be rendered sterile through the use of insect growth inhibitors (step 4). All of these options for breaking this part of the flea life cycle are discussed below.



1) Physical larvae removal from the host environment by vacuuming:
Never underestimate the value of simple, frequent, thorough vacuuming in helping to get rid offleas from a dog or cat's environment. Flea eggs and larvae in carpets, couches, human and pet beds and other indoorsareas can be sucked away by regular vacuuming, reducing the environmental flea burden overall. All regions of the house should be vacuumed, where possible, but important emphasis should be placed on carpets, soft furniture (e.g. couches), floors underneath furniture, floors underneathremovable rugs and mats and gaps under side boards. Using a vacuum cleaner with a beater bar can help to shake flea eggs, larvae and cocoons out from places deeperwithin the carpet proper and improve the vacuum uptake of these flea life cycle stages. Aftereach vacuuming, the vacuum bag should be disposed of, lest fleas start hatching and breeding insideof the vacuum bag!

Don't forget the car! A significant source of reservoir environmental flea infestation and subsequenthost animal reinfestation is the car. Flea infested animals drop eggs into the car during car trips - these flea eggs can hatch into larvae and go through the entire flea life cycle inside of the car. As it is often not a good idea to use pesticides inside of a car (pesticidesand insecticides can release toxic fumes that are poisonous to people when the car interior heats up) frequent vacuuming is one of the safer ways of ridding the car of flea eggs, larvae and cocoons. In very hot, dry climates (e.g. Australia in Summer), persistent flea infestation of a car is not as likely because the car, when it is parked outside, will usually heat up to temperature levels beyond that of larvae and pupae survival.


2) Physical flea larvae removal from the host's environment by the removal and replacementof contaminated regions:
In long-term, heavy flea infestations the pet's bedding, and various other cool, moist, indoors regions where the pet spends most of its time (like the couch and the carpet), can become veryheavily infested with eggs, larvae and pupal stages. These places may be very difficult to get the fleas out ofif they are heavily infested. Consequently, some owners are forced reduce their house flea populations by removing these environmental flea life cycle havens altogether and replacing them with clean ones - new carpet, new pet bedding, new couch and so on.

Even better, instead of replacing the old infested carpet and couch with more of the same (i.e. another flea-attractive carpet or couch to reinfest anew), many owners assist their flea elimination efforts by replacing their old carpets and couches and the like with floors, seating and bedding made from easy-to-clean, flea-unfriendlymaterials. Flea unfriendly floors that do not support the flea life cycle include: linoleum, slate, stone, varnished floorboards and tiles. Flea unfriendly seating materialsthat do not support the flea life cycle include: non-porous vinyl, plastic and wood. Covering a new couch entirely (including underneath) with a clear plastic cover that is non-permeable to flealife cycle stages (including larvae) will ensure that the couch remains clean and does not becomea nursery for juvenile flea stages.

Author's note - complete removal and replacement of contaminated bedding and carpetand the like is a useful way of dramatically reducing the populations of the off-host stages of the flealife cycle in the host's environment. It will not, however, do much for flea numbers in the long term if thefleas on the host (or hosts) are not eradicated too. Adult flea killing chemicals(the BIG 5 in section 2a) should be used on the host animal/s in conjunction with this environmental replacementmode of flea control, to avoid having the new carpet, new couch and so on re-infested with fleas.

Author's note - removing and replacing an entire dog kennel is probably not warranted, unless thefloor of the kennel and/or its walls are made of a fabric that holds fleas. If the walls and floor of thekennel are made of smooth, hard, easy to wash materials (metal, hard plastic) then only the pet's beddingneeds to be discarded and not the kennel itself. The kennel can be steam cleaned (>35 degrees-Celsius) and/or disinfected with a pyrethrin-containing wash and rinsed, dried and used again. Open-floor kennels standing on grass or soil can be washed likewise and then the kennel should be relocated to a differentregion of the yard, well away from the original location, to let the sun and dry air kill the flealife cycle stages present in the grass and soil of the first area.


3) Physical flea larvae removal from the host's environment by heat and drying:
Temperatures of 13-32 degrees-Celsius and relative humidities in the range of 50-90% are required in order for flea development to progress according to the flea life cycle diagram presented above. Desiccating (drying), low-humidity environmental conditions and temperatures in excess of 35 degrees-Celsius are lethal to flea larvae and cocoons (flea pupae) - important flea information that can be very useful in the non-chemical management and control of flea infestation problems.

Steam cleaning can be used to destroy flea larvae and flea cocoons present in households and is of particularaid in the removal of fleas from carpets, pet bedding, human bedding, couches and animal runs and dog kennels.It is a useful natural flea remedy for the eradication of fleas in carpet and other contaminated environmental regions because it uses no chemicals, only heat and water, and because it kills the majorreservoir of flea infestation: the flea pupa (flea cocoon). Steam cleaning is also a greatnatural flea control remedy in commercial dog and cat and poultry breeding facilities because steam can be used to thoroughly and rapidly clean out kennels, runs and concrete yards and because steam cleaning uses no chemicals that might poison the animals; accumulate in the environment; contaminate meat and/or fur/feathers and because it is cheap to use.

Important steam cleaning tip: If you are going to steam clean, make sure that you use a professional machine that produces true steam!Some home-use machines merely wet the carpet (or couch, bedding ...), rather than heat it up enough to kill the flea life cycle stages. Additionally, because the carpet may remain moist and humid for days to weeks after steam cleaning - anenvironmental change that is highly beneficial to surviving fleas - it is important to apply a flea insecticide to the steam-treated regions (carpet etc), and to any hosts present in the area, immediately after steam-cleaning to ensure that flea populationsdo not explode as a result of carpet wetting and a flea-favorable increase in humidity.

Hot water (>35 degrees) machine washing of pet bedding, clothing and pet toys should alsokill flea larvae and remove fleas from these items.

Sunlight and drying, desiccating conditions outdoors will also kill larval fleas and flea pupae. Leaving pet beds, pet bedding and even removable mats and carpets out in the open sunlight for a few days (make sure that they are hot days with a very low air humidity) can also reduce flea larvae and flea pupae populations in these items. Note that especially large items (e.g. couches, mattresses),which could harbor flea life cycle stages deep within, away from the heat and dryingeffect of the sun, probably would not respond adequately to this treatment. Sunlight might also resultin bleaching and damage to these items.

A common source of flea egg and flea larvae contamination of outdoor yards and lawns is flea infested stray, feral and wild animal intruders coming into theyard. These animals will drop flea eggs (which hatch into flea larvae) into your yard as they forage about for food and nesting sites.

As mentioned previously, discouraging these unwelcome flea-carrying creatures from coming into your yard can be an important way of preventing fleas from infesting your lawn and yard and soil in the first place. Discouragesuch animals (e.g. stray and feral cats and dogs) from your turf by:

  • ensuring that there is no food for them - e.g. lock garbage cans so that they are not attractive to critters, don't leave food bowls outside for them, don't leave uneaten pet food and half-chewed bones outside once your pet has finished with them and so on;
  • ensuring that there are no nesting and resting sites available for them (e.g. gaps under sheds, loose woodpiles, old machinery, car bodies, dense garden vegetation, small forest patches, gaps allowing access under houses and verandahs and so on);
  • putting up and maintaining good fences.
  • allowing your flea-free dog outside regularly if you have one (dogs generally discourage stray cats and other wild animals from coming into a yard, provided the presence of a dog does not result in copious amounts of food being left outside).
If unwelcome flea-carrying pests are, however, unable to be dissuaded from coming into your yard, despiteall your best efforts, you can adapt your yard to make it less flea life cycle friendly. Wild and feral animals will tend to drop eggs and larvae out in the open (lawn, grass, yard etc) as they forage about. Keeping lawns very short (frequently mowed) and garden-beds open and sparsely vegetated should be enough to cause flea eggs, flea larvae and pupae to beexposed to sunlight and the drying, desiccating effects of the open air. The liberal useof brick, concrete and stone surfaces in outdoor gardens and yards will also tend to kill off the various flea life cycle stages by way of sunlight-heat absorption and desiccation.


4) Egg hatching inhibitors:
The female flea is unable to produce or lay any viable eggs without having first consumed a blood meal from the host animal.

  • If host animals (cats or dogs) are treated with the systemic flea control product: Lufenuron (tradenames include - Sentinel and Program), this chemical will be taken up into the female flea's body as it drinks the host animal's blood. Lufenuron is an insect growth inhibitor that damages the development of the larval fleas that form inside of the flea eggs, causing these larvae to be unable to hatch. It does not kill the adult fleas, just their offspring.
  • Another canine flea product, Cyromazine (tradenames include - Decaflea), is also an insect growth inhibitor product that works by preventing flea eggs from hatching.
  • Likewise, the canine and feline flea product, Pyriproxifen (tradenames include - Duogard Band for Cats, Duogard Band for Dogs, Duogard Line On for Dogs, Protect-a-Dog Double Impact), is also an insect growth inhibitor that prevents flea eggs (and also flea larvae) from developing. If used in flea products targeted towards controlling fleas in the host's environment, Pyriproxifen (and its relative, Fenoxycarb) is sunlight stable and should last up to a year before needing reapplication.
  • The drug, S-methoprene, is also contained in many flea prevention products (e.g. Zodiac Flea Proof Spray for Cats and Dogs, Frontline Plus, Troy IGR, Quick-Kill Eclipse, Fido's Flea Bomb Insecticidal Fogger) and has a similar mode of action against flea egg viability. If used in flea products targeted towards controlling fleas in the host's environment, please remember that S-methoprene is sunlight sensitive and should be reapplied at least every 30 weeks.
  • Revolution (active-ingredient selamectin) also has an inhibitory effect against flea eggs, rendering them sterile.
Any eggs that fall from the host animal after these products have been used should notbe viable (unable to hatch) and thus not pose an problem of environmental flea contamination.


5) Environmental flea larvae dehydration and death, using sodium borate:
Sodium borate compounds are crystalline compounds that have ovicidal (egg killing) and larvicidal (larvae killing) properties. They can be applied to a flea infested environment andare thought to kill flea eggs and flea larvae via a dehydration mechanism (the hypertonic crystals suck the water out of the flea eggs and larvae, resulting in severe dehydration and death ofthese flea life cycle stages). Direct ingestion of the borates by the flea larva also results in deathby dehydration.

Author's note: Some borates can be harmful to pets that ingest them. Cats in particularcan ingest borate salts if they walk across treated floors and pick up the powdery residueson their feet and coats (the cat will later groom or lick the salts off its coat, resultingin ingestion). Read product labels carefully to ensure that they are safe around pets.

The Fleabusters product: "Rx for Fleas Plus Flea Powder" used to only be available as a professionally-applied sodium borate carpet powder by the pest company that invented and utilised it. "Rx for Fleas Plus Flea Powder" is now available as a home-use product for household owners to apply to flea infested environments (e.g. carpet) and comes with a 1 year guarantee of efficacy. I have included a link to their site at the end of this page.



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2d) Flea Life Cycle 4 - The first stage flea larvae develop and grow and undergo two molts to become final stage flea larvae.

Flea Life Cycle 4 - The first stage flea larvae develop and grow and undergo two molts to become final stage flea larvae.Over about 9-15 days, depending on environmental conditions, the first stage flea larva grows and developsand undergoes a series of molts (two moults) to become a third stage (final stage) flea larva.This final stage flea larva is the stage that will spin a cocoon around itself in readiness to become an adult flea. The three larval flea stages live freely in the host's environment(they are part of the environmental stage of the flea life cycle), where they feed on fleadroppings (flea dirt) and dander.

Author's note: It is VERY important to consider the environment of the hostwhen attempting to eradicate and eliminate fleas from a host animal. A huge part of the flea life cycleoccurs off the host animal. If an animal has adult fleas on its coat, then the pet's environment has many more eggs, larvae and pupal fleas just waiting to develop into adults and hop on board. You must treatthe host and the host's environment to get rid of fleas.



The significance of this flea life cycle stage with regard to flea control and flea prevention:

In order to break this link of the flea life cycle chain: any viable first to thirdstage flea larvae that do exist within the host animal's environment need to be removed or destroyed. Flea larvae can be killed using a range of flea control techniques (steps 3, 4, 5 and 6) and the numbers of flea larvae in the pet's environment can be reduced by various means of environmental decontamination (steps 1 and 2). All of these options for breaking this part of the flea life cycle are discussed below.



1) Physical flea larvae removal from the host environment by vacuuming:
Never underestimate the value of simple, frequent, thorough vacuuming in helping to get rid offleas from a dog or cat's environment. Flea eggs and larvae in carpets, couches, human and pet beds and other indoorsareas can be sucked away by regular vacuuming, reducing the environmental flea burden overall. All regions of the house should be vacuumed, where possible, but important emphasis should be placed on carpets, soft furniture (e.g. couches), floors underneath furniture, floors underneathremovable rugs and mats and gaps under side boards. Using a vacuum cleaner with a beater bar can help to shake flea eggs, larvae and cocoons out from places deeperwithin the carpet proper and improve the vacuum uptake of these flea life cycle stages. Aftereach vacuuming, the vacuum bag should be disposed of, lest fleas start hatching and breeding insideof the vacuum bag!

Don't forget the car! A significant source of reservoir environmental flea infestation and subsequenthost animal reinfestation is the car. Flea infested animals drop eggs into the car during car trips - these flea eggs can hatch into larvae and go through the entire flea life cycle inside of the car. As it is often not a good idea to use pesticides inside of a car (pesticidesand insecticides can release toxic fumes that are poisonous to people when the car interior heats up) frequent vacuuming is one of the safer ways of ridding the car of flea eggs, larvae and cocoons. In very hot, dry climates (e.g. Australia in Summer), persistent flea infestation of a car is not as likely because the car, when it is parked outside, will usually heat up to temperature levels beyond that of larval and pupal survival.


2) Physical flea larvae removal from the host's environment by the removal and replacementof contaminated regions:
In long-term, heavy flea infestations the pet's bedding, and various other cool, moist, indoors regions where the pet spends most of its time (like the couch and the carpet), can become veryheavily infested with eggs, larvae and pupal stages. These places may be very difficult to get the fleas out ofif they are heavily infested. Consequently, some owners are forced reduce their house flea populations by removing these environmental flea havens altogether and replacing them with clean ones - new carpet, new pet bedding, new couch and so on.

Even better, instead of replacing the old infested carpet and couch with more of the same (i.e. another flea-attractive carpet or couch to reinfest anew), many owners assist their flea elimination efforts by replacing their old carpets and couches and the like with floors, seating and bedding made from easy-to-clean, flea-unfriendlymaterials. Flea unfriendly floors that do not support the flea life cycle include: linoleum, slate, stone, varnished floorboards and tiles. Flea unfriendly seating materialsthat do not support the flea life cycle include: non-porous vinyl, plastic and wood. Covering a new couch entirely (including underneath) with a clear plastic cover that is non-permeable to flealife cycle stages (including larvae) will ensure that the couch remains clean and does not becomea nursery for juvenile fleas.

Author's note - complete removal and replacement of contaminated bedding and carpetand the like is a useful way of dramatically reducing the populations of the off-host stages of the flealife cycle in the host's environment. It will not, however, do much for flea numbers in the long term if thefleas on the host (or hosts) are not eradicated too. Adult flea killing chemicals(the BIG 5 in section 2a) should be used on the host animal/s in conjunction with this environmental replacementmode of flea control, to avoid having the new carpet, new couch and so on re-infested with fleas.

Author's note - removing and replacing an entire dog kennel is probably not warranted, unless thefloor of the kennel and/or its walls are made of a fabric that holds fleas. If the walls and floor of thekennel are made of smooth, hard, easy to wash materials (metal, hard plastic) then only the pet's beddingneeds to be discarded and not the kennel itself. The kennel can be steam cleaned (>35 degrees-Celsius) and/or disinfected with a pyrethrin-containing wash and rinsed, dried and used again. Open-floor kennels standing on grass or soil can be washed likewise and then the kennel should be relocated to a differentregion of the yard, well away from the original location, to let the sun and dry air kill the flealife cycle stages present in the grass and soil of the first area.


3) Physical flea larvae removal from the host's environment by heat and drying:
Temperatures of 13-32 degrees-Celsius and relative humidities in the range of 50-90% are required in order for flea development to progress according to the flea life cycle diagram presented above. Desiccating (drying), low-humidity environmental conditions and temperatures in excess of 35 degrees-Celsius are lethal to flea larvae and cocoons (flea pupae) - important flea information that can be very useful in the non-chemical management and control of flea infestation problems.

Steam cleaning can be used to destroy flea larvae and flea cocoons present in households and is of particularuse in the removal of fleas from carpets, pet bedding, human bedding, couches and animal runs and dog kennels.It is one of the more useful home remedies for killing fleas in carpet and other contaminated environmental regions because it uses no chemicals, only heat and water, and because it kills the majorreservoir of flea infestation: the flea pupa (flea cocoon). Steam cleaning is also a greatnatural flea control remedy in commercial dog and cat and poultry breeding facilities because steam can be used to thoroughly and rapidly clean out kennels, runs and concrete yards and because steam cleaning uses no chemicals that might poison the animals; accumulate in the environment; contaminate meat and/or fur/feathers and because it is cheap to use.

Important steam cleaning tip: If you are going to steam clean, make sure that you use a professional machine that produces true steam!Some domestic-use machines merely wet the carpet (or couch, bedding ...), rather than heat it up enough to kill the flea life cycle stages. Additionally, because the carpet may remain moist and humid for days to weeks after steam cleaning - anenvironmental change that is highly beneficial to surviving fleas - it is important to apply a flea insecticide to the steam-treated regions (carpet etc), and to any hosts present in the area, immediately after steam-cleaning to ensure that flea populationsdo not explode as a result of carpet wetting and a flea-favourable increase in humidity.

Hot water (>35 degrees) machine washing of pet bedding, clothing and pet toys should alsokill flea larvae and remove fleas from these items.

Sunlight and drying, desiccating conditions outdoors will also kill larval fleas and flea pupae. Leaving pet beds, pet bedding and even removable mats and carpets out in the open sunlight for a few days (make sure that they are hot days with a very low air humidity) can also reduce flea larvae and flea pupae populations in these items. Note that especially large items (e.g. couches, mattresses),which could harbour flea life cycle stages deep within, away from the heat and dryingeffect of the sun, probably would not respond adequately to this treatment. Sunlight might also resultin bleaching and damage to these items.

A common source of flea egg and flea larvae contamination of outdoor yards and lawns is flea infested stray, feral and wild animal intruders coming into theyard. These animals will drop flea eggs (which hatch into flea larvae) into your yard as they forage about for food and nesting sites.

As mentioned previously, discouraging these unwelcome flea-carrying creatures from coming into your yard can be an important way of preventing fleas from infesting your lawn and yard and soil in the first place. Discouragesuch animals (e.g. stray and feral cats and dogs) from your turf by:

  • ensuring that there is no food for them - e.g. lock garbage cans so that they are not attractive to critters, don't leave food bowls outside for them, don't leave uneaten pet food and half-chewed bones outside once your pet has finished with them and so on;
  • ensuring that there are no nesting and resting sites available for them (e.g. gaps under sheds, loose woodpiles, old machinery, car bodies, dense garden vegetation, small forest patches, gaps allowing access under houses and verandahs and so on);
  • putting up and maintaining good fences.
  • allowing your flea-free dog outside regularly if you have one (dogs generally discourage stray cats and other wild animals from coming into a yard, provided the presence of a dog does not result in copious amounts of food being left outside).
If unwelcome flea-carrying pests are, however, unable to be dissuaded from coming into your yard, despiteall your best efforts, you can adapt your yard to make it less flea life cycle friendly. Wild and feral animals will tend to drop eggs and larvae out in the open (lawn, grass, yard etc) as they forage about. Keeping lawns very short (frequently mowed) and garden-beds open and sparsely vegetated should be enough to cause flea eggs, flea larvae and pupae to beexposed to sunlight and the drying, desiccating effects of the open air. The liberal useof brick, concrete and stone surfaces in outdoor gardens and yards will also tend to kill off the various flea life cycle stages by way of sunlight-heat absorption and desiccation.


4) Flea larva removal with the use of flea adulticides that kill flea larvae in addition to flea adults:
A flea larva - part of the flea life cycle that takes place in the pet's environment. Many adulticide flea therapies kill flea larvae in addition to flea adults.Many of the products, which have been manufactured to kill adult fleas (usually on host animals), also have a dual role in killing flea larvae that exist within the host animal's environment.

These adult flea products achieve this larval killing effect in one of two main ways:
A) as an incidental effect - the flea control product placed directly onto the pet's coat to kill adult fleas also happens to kill larval fleas through contamination of the larval flea's environmentwith treated pet dander or through larval flea contact with the treated pet itself (i.e. the larval fleasmake contact with the treated pet's body when the pet rests upon a larvae-rich environment like a pet bed or a flea-infested carpet) or
B) as a deliberate effect - a chemical insecticide, capable of killing both adult fleas and larvae, is applied directly to the larval flea's environment (in the form of a flea bomb, flea spray, flea fogger, flea rinse or flea powder) for the purposes of adult and larval flea eradication.


A) Adulticide ("adult killing") flea control products that kill flea larvae as an incidental effect:
Some of the adulticide flea products applied directly to the host animal's fur for the purposes ofkilling adult fleas on the fur also have a secondary role in the killing of larval fleas in the host'slocal environment. This larval flea killing effect occurs when medicated dander (dandruff) from the pet's coat (laden in insecticide) falls into the larval flea's environment. It also occurs whenthe treated coat of the pet comes into direct contact with the flea larvae (this larval contact occurs most commonlywhen the pet is at rest and laying down in a larval flea infested environment - e.g. the pet's bedding, house carpet).

Flea products that kill larval fleas as an incidental effect include:
  • Imidacloprid (tradenames include - Advantage Duo, Advantage for Dogs and Cats, Advantix, Advocate) - kills adult fleas brilliantly as a spot-on skin treatment. Imidacloprid is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the body within 12 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. Imidacloprid kills flea larvae that come into direct contact with the treated pet's fur and it also coats the dander falling from the pet (this treated dander will kill flea larvae in the pet's environment). Its effect lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" is safe to use on kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age (Bayer the manufacturer says the product can be used in pups and kittens from day 1, but that only treatment of the lactating bitch is needed to ensure that the pups/kittens are covered). "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" can also be used in pregnant dogs and cats as well as rabbits and ferrets (exercise caution with dosing). "Advantix" is not safe for cats. Advantage DUO is no longer manifactured.
  • Selamectin (tradenames include - Revolution) - kills adult fleas brilliantly as a spot-on skin treatment. Selamectin is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the host's body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. As an added effect, it kills flea larvae that come into direct contact with the treated pet's fur and it also coats the dander falling from the pet (this treated dander will kill flea larvae in the pet's environment). It lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Revolution" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age. Animals should be tested for heartworm if the product is to be administered to pets over 6 months of age, which have not previously been on heart worm prevention.
  • Pyriproxifen (tradenames include - Duogard Band for Cats, Duogard Band for Dogs, Duogard Line On for Dogs, Protect-a-Dog Double Impact) is an insect growth inhibitor product that prevents flea eggs (and also flea larvae) from developing. It does not kill the adult fleas, but is placed on the host's coat to render the flea eggs non-viable (it is because it is applied to the host that I placed it in this section).
Some of the flea control products used to break the various parts of the flea life cycle are toxic to certain animal species and ages of animal. Read labels carefully.

Author's Note - Because these host-applied flea control products only kill flea larvae as an incidental effect (i.e. upon contact with a treated host) it is, therefore, most likely that only the flea larvae that are present in the environment where the pet hangs out and goes a lot are going to be killed. Flea larvae that hatch in places outside of the host'snormal range of movement (i.e. in places the host visits very infrequently) are unlikely to be exposedto the treated host or its dander and to, therefore, survive. These incidental products are not hugely reliable as "whole-environment" flea control products because theyrely on the pet for environmental distribution - if the pet does not go everywhere that the environmentalfleas are, then some flea larvae and flea adults will be left alive in the environment to continue the flea life cycle.


B) Flea control products that kill flea larvae and environmental adults as a deliberate effect:
Some of the organophosphate, carbamate, pyrethrin and permethrin chemicals used in certain adulticide flea control products applied directly to the pet's fur are also capable of killing larval and adult fleas in the host's local environment as well. Drug companies have, thus, formulated some of these insecticide compounds into forms (e.g flea bombs, flea powders, flea foggers, flea sprays) that can be applied liberally to the environment for major enviromental flea control. Some of these environmental products (e.g. powders, sprays) can even be applied to the pet's fur directly (i.e. the same product can be used on the pet and on the pet's environment).

Environmentally-targeted flea control products that kill flea larvae and adults include:

  • Flea bombs and flea foggers (tradenames include - Fido's Flea bomb Insecticidal Fogger, Zodiac Flea Proof Insecticidal Mist) - permethrin and methoprene-S products designed to distribute a fine fog of flea control insecticide across a room; coating all surfaces.
  • Flea powders (tradenames include - Exelpet Pyrethrin Flea Control Powder for Cats and Dogs, Fido's Fre-Itch CPP Flea Powder, Fido's Fre-Itch Flea Powder, Keydust, Skatta-7 Tick Flea Louse Powder) - carbaryl or pyrethrin based flea powders that are dusted onto environmental surfaces where adult and larval fleas like to hide out. Some of these products can be also used on the host animal/s, including poultry and birds, in addition to the host's environment and bedding (read labels carefully).
  • Flea rinses and sprays (tradenames include - Di-Flea Flea and Tick Rinse and Yard Spray, Exelpet Fleaban Yard and Kennel Concentrate, Malaban Wash Concentrate, Malatroy, Pyretroy, Quick-Kill Rinse Concentrate for Fleas, Ticks and Lice, Troy IGR) - pyrethrin or organophosphate based flea products designed to be administered as a fine spray or wash for coating flea-infested environmental surfaces and flea larvae hide-outs. Some of these products can be also used on the host animal/s, including poultry and birds, in addition to the host's environment and bedding (read labels carefully) and some are also useful for yard flea control (e.g. lawn flea control), where steam cleaning, vacuuming, flea bombs and other modes of flea control are less applicable. Products containing organophosphates may be cumulative in the environment, resulting in poison build up over time. Products containing permethrins are toxic to fish and waterways and should not be emptied into waterways, sewers or sinks or used in yards where groundwater contamination is likely.
Author's Note - These "environment-targetted" flea products, which kill flea larvae as a deliberate effect rather than an incidental effect, are better placed to be used in the management of major environmental flea burdens. These products are much more reliable as whole-environment flea control products (in conjunction with host-animal treatments) because they do not rely on the pet for distribution. If the pet does not spend timeeverywhere in the environment that the fleas are, then no matter - the insecticidal flea spray, flea bomb or flea fogger will. Flea bombs, flea foggers and environmental powders and sprays should, used correctly, leave few flea larvae alive in the environment to continue the flea life cycle.

Note - flea bombs and flea foggers are only able to provide good environmental flea controlif their limitations are understood. These products are designed to spray insecticide out linearly, 360-degrees from a central point (the bomb). This insecticide rises up into theair and then drifts down, settling upon surfaces. Flea bombs and foggers are, therefore, unable to penetrate around corners (fleas can live in the non-treated carpet protected behind a wall); unable to access the insides of closets and cabinets (they do not go through doors) and unable topenetrate underneath tables and couches (the falling mist of insecticide settles on the furniture and bench tops, but not underneath). Flea foggers and bombs need to be positioned so that all regions of a room are in direct line withthe spray (i.e. in 'direct sight' of the bomb) - there must be no walls, cabinets or other room dividersaround that could interfere with the spray reaching every inch and corner of the room/carpet. If furniture can becompletely moved out of a room while spraying is occurring, the better the insecticide cover of thecarpet will be. Areas of carpet under non-movable furniture or in areas unlikely to be reached by the bomb, should be hand-sprayed carefully after "bombing" to ensure that fleas can not hide-out in these 'protected regions'.Alternatively, owners can elect to hand spray or powder all sections of a room without the use of a fogger or bomb. This is time-consuming, but gives the best, most targeted environmental flea elimination treatment.

IMPORTANT NOTE - Many of the chemicals and medications used in these environmental flea control products are quite toxic to pets and people. They should be used strictly according to instructionsand you must read the labels very carefully (some of these poisons are lethal to cats, for example).It is advised that people and their pets clear out of the house for a few hours to days (depending on the product), whilst the flea treatment (e.g. flea bomb) is taking effect. Frequent, repeated use of environmental flea chemicals may result in an accumulation of flea poison within the home and is not advised - I recommend using them only occasionally, to get rid of major flea burdens, and following up with good, vigilant, safe (the BIG 5), host-animal flea prevention. People with significant environmental flea burdens should really seek the advice of a qualified pest company for more information on what to do to get rid of flea pests before using any of these products.


5) Killing flea larvae in grass and soil using biological control means - predatory nematode worms:
Interrupt, NemaSeek and NemAttack (there may be others) are chemical-free, biological flea control products designed to kill flea larvae and flea pupae (and perhaps even adult fleas) in outdoor lawns and soil. These biological flea control products involve the use of various species of predatory nematode worms, which preyupon insects and their larvae: Steinernema carpocapsae, Steinernema feltiae or Heterorhabditis bacteriophora.These tiny predator worms are sprinkled liberally onto moist, flea-infested grass and soil where they attack and invade the bodies of flea larvae and pupae (and maybe adult fleas) andalso various other insect pests (e.g. termites). The worms live and multiply inside of these prey insectspecies, feeding on the insect's innards, before spilling out of the dead insect's body togo off in search of more prey.

The choice of which nematode product to use depends on several factors:
  • climate - Steinernema carpocapsae prefers cooler climates, Steinernema feltiae prefers hotter climates and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora can tolerate either
  • the mobility of the target pest - Steinernema carpocapsae and Steinernema feltiae are ambush predators that prefer mobile pests, which come to them. In contrast, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora (NemaSeek) is a mobile, "search-and-destroy" worm that will seek out less mobile pests and kill them
  • the soil quality - Steinernema carpocapsae and Steinernema feltiae prefer open, sandy or disturbed soils, whereas Heterorhabditis bacteriophora likes clayish or undisturbed soil.
According to instruction sheets, these nematode-based flea products should be applied to lawnsand soil (preferably soil with some sort of ground cover) immediately prior to the start of the flea season. If flea insecticides have been used on the yard, you should wait at least 30 days before applying thenematode products to the grass or soil as the worms will be killed by the flea control products. For best effect, the yard should be kept moist enough to "keep the grass green" (watering the yard every 3-4 days should be enough). Nematodes will need to be reapplied every 4-6 weeks tokeep their numbers high.

Disclaimer - Pet Informed can make no claims about any of these biological flea control products and their efficacy and nor can we give any guarantee about what other unwanted side effects (e.g. decimation of beneficial ants and other insects) might occur as a result of their use.A link is included at the end of the page so that you can research more into these kinds of products if interested.


6) Environmental flea larvae dehydration and death, using sodium borate:
Sodium borate compounds are crystalline compounds that have ovicidal (egg killing) and larvicidal (larvae killing) properties. They can be applied to a flea infested environment andare thought to kill flea eggs and flea larvae via a dehydration mechanism (the hypertonic crystals suck the water out of the flea eggs and larvae, resulting in severe dehydration and death ofthese flea life cycle stages). Direct ingestion of the borates by the flea larva also results in deathby dehydration.

Author's note: Some borates can be harmful to pets that ingest them. Cats in particularcan ingest borate salts if they walk across treated floors and pick up the powdery residueson their feet and coats (the cat will later groom or lick the salts off its coat, resultingin ingestion). Read product labels carefully to ensure that they are safe around pets.

The Fleabusters product: "Rx for Fleas Plus Flea Powder" used to only be available as a professionally-applied sodium borate carpet powder by the pest company that invented and utilised it. "Rx for Fleas Plus Flea Powder" is now available as a home-use product for household owners to apply to flea infested environments (e.g. carpet) and comes with a 1 year guarantee of efficacy. I have included a link to their site at the end of this page.





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2e) Flea Life Cycle 5 - The final stage flea larva spins a cocoon and becomes a pupa:

Flea Life Cycle 5 - The final stage flea larva spins a cocoon and becomes a pupa.The final stage flea larva spins a cocoon around itself, becoming what is termed a pupa.Just like a butterfly caterpillar spins a cocoon around itself in order to metamorphoseinto a butterfly, so too does the flea larva need to spin a cocoon in order to change into anadult flea. The cocoon of the flea pupa is very sticky and tends to become covered in dirt, danderand debris from the surrounding environment, thus making it almost unrecognizable to pet owners.

The flea cocoon or pupa is the most long-lived stage of the flea life cycle - taking anywhere up to a year or more to hatch. The pupa is the life cycle stage of the flea that is the most vitalto a flea population's persistence in a host environment. The reason why this stage of the flea life cycleis so important to the flea population as a whole is because of the fact that flea cocoons generally only hatch in the presence of a host animal. They hatch in response to the host animal's warmth, movement (the host animal produces vibrations, as it walks over the carpet and flooring,which trigger the fleas to hatch out) and breathed-out CO2.

The flea pupa stage of the flea life cycle is very long-lived. It will wait for hosts to appear before hatching.Flea pupae do not generally hatch out spontaneously, in response to a certain time limit or a change inseason. Instead, they wait until a host animal is available for feeding on and for all of the requirements forthe flea life cycle to be completed successfully to be present (they are very clever). For this reason, simply depopulatinga previously-infested environment and leaving it free of hosts for a specified period of timeis no guarantee of fleas not hatching back to life when the host animals finally return (unless you are willingto leave the environment depopulated for over a year). The fleas will simply lie dormant intheir cocoons and wait - they can wait for many many months for a host to reappear. They arepatient. Cocoon eradication is, thus, very important if an environment is to be completely freed of fleas.

Author's note: It is VERY important to consider the environment of the hostwhen attempting to eradicate and eliminate fleas from a host animal. A huge part of the flea life cycleoccurs off the host animal. If an animal has adult fleas on its coat, then the pet's environment has many more eggs, larvae and pupal fleas just waiting to develop into adults and hop on board. You must treatthe host and the host's environment to get rid of fleas.



The significance of this flea life cycle stage with regard to flea control and flea prevention:

In order to break this link of the flea life cycle chain: any viable flea pupae that do exist within the host animal's environment need to be removed or destroyed or forcibly inducedto hatch into adult fleas. Flea pupae can be killed using a range of flea control techniques (steps 3, and 5); the total numbers of flea larvae and pupae present in the pet's environment can be reduced by various means of environmental decontamination (steps 1 and 2) and pupae can be induced to hatch into an insecticide-treated environment using various methods (step 4). All of these options for breaking this part of the flea life cycle are discussed below.



1) Physical flea pupae removal from the host environment by vacuuming:
Never underestimate the value of simple, frequent, thorough vacuuming in helping to get rid offleas from a dog or cat's environment. Flea eggs, flea larvae and flea pupae in carpets, couches, human and pet beds and other indoors areas can be sucked away by regular vacuuming, reducing the environmental flea burden overall. All regions of the house should be vacuumed, where possible, but important emphasis should be placed on carpets, soft furniture (e.g. couches), floors underneath furniture, floors underneathremovable rugs and mats and gaps under side boards. Using a vacuum cleaner with a beater bar can help to shake flea eggs, larvae and cocoons out from places deeperwithin the carpet proper and improve the vacuum uptake of these flea life cycle stages. The beaterbar will also set up vibrations that should induce flea pupae to hatch (see step 4). Aftereach vacuuming, the vacuum bag should be disposed of, lest fleas start hatching and breeding insideof the vacuum bag!

Don't forget the car! A significant source of reservoir environmental flea infestation and subsequenthost animal reinfestation is the car. Flea infested animals drop eggs into the car during car trips - these flea eggs can hatch into larvae and go through the entire flea life cycle inside of the car. As it is often not a good idea to use pesticides inside of a car (pesticidesand insecticides can release toxic fumes that are poisonous to people when the car interior heats up) frequent vacuuming is one of the safer ways of ridding the car of flea eggs, larvae and cocoons. In very hot, dry climates (e.g. Australia in Summer), persistent flea infestation of a car is not as likely because the car, when it is parked outside, will usually heat up to temperature levels beyond that of larval and pupal survival.


2) Physical flea pupae removal from the host's environment by the removal and replacementof contaminated regions:
In long-term, heavy flea infestations the pet's bedding, and various other cool, moist, indoors regions where the pet spends most of its time (like the couch and the carpet), can become veryheavily infested with eggs, larvae and pupal stages. These places may be very difficult to get the fleas out ofif they are heavily infested. Consequently, some owners are forced reduce their house flea populations by removing these environmental flea havens altogether and replacing them with clean ones - new carpet, new pet bedding, new couch and so on.

Even better, instead of replacing the old infested carpet and couch with more of the same (i.e. another flea-attractive carpet or couch to reinfest anew), many owners assist their flea elimination efforts by replacing their old carpets and couches and the like with floors, seating and bedding made from easy-to-clean, flea-unfriendlymaterials. Flea unfriendly floors that do not support the flea life cycle include: linoleum, slate, stone, varnished floorboards and tiles. Flea unfriendly seating materialsthat do not support the flea life cycle include: non-porous vinyl, plastic and wood. Covering a new couch entirely (including underneath) with a clear plastic cover that is non-permeable to flealife cycle stages (including larvae) will ensure that the couch remains clean and does not becomea nursery for flea pupae and juvenile fleas.

Author's note - complete removal and replacement of contaminated bedding and carpetand the like is a useful way of dramatically reducing the populations of the off-host stages of the flealife cycle in the host's environment. It will not, however, do much for flea numbers in the long term if thefleas on the host (or hosts) are not eradicated too. Adult flea killing chemicals(the BIG 5 in section 2a) should be used on the host animal/s in conjunction with this environmental replacementmode of flea control, to avoid having the new carpet, new couch and so on re-infested with fleas.

Author's note - removing and replacing an entire dog kennel is probably not warranted, unless thefloor of the kennel and/or its walls are made of a fabric that holds fleas and pupae. If the walls and floor of thekennel are made of smooth, hard, easy to wash materials (metal, hard plastic) then only the pet's beddingneeds to be discarded and not the kennel itself. The kennel can be steam cleaned (>35 degrees-Celsius) and/or disinfected with a pyrethrin-containing wash and rinsed, dried and used again. Open-floor kennels standing on grass or soil can be washed likewise and then the kennel should be relocated to a differentregion of the yard, well away from the original location, to let the sun and dry air kill the flealife cycle stages present in the grass and soil of the first area.

3) Physical flea pupae removal from the host's environment by heat and drying:
Temperatures of 13-32 degrees-Celsius and relative humidities in the range of 50-90% are required in order for flea development to progress according to the flea life cycle diagram presented above. Desiccating (drying), low-humidity environmental conditions and temperatures in excess of 35 degrees-Celsius are lethal to flea larvae and cocoons (flea pupae) - important flea information that can be very useful in the non-chemical management and control of flea infestation problems.

Steam clean the pet's environment only, NOT the pet. It seems silly to have to state it, but it happens!Steam cleaning can be used to destroy flea larvae and flea cocoons present in households and is of particularuse in the removal of fleas from carpets, pet bedding, human bedding, couches and animal runs and dog kennels.It is one of the more useful natural home remedies for killing fleas in carpet and other contaminated environmental regions because it uses no chemicals, only heat and water, and because it kills the majorreservoir of flea infestation: the flea pupa (flea cocoon). Steam cleaning is also a greatnatural flea control remedy in commercial dog and cat and poultry breeding facilities because steam can be used to thoroughly and rapidly clean out kennels, runs and concrete yards and because steam cleaning uses no chemicals that might poison the animals; accumulate in the environment; contaminate meat and/or fur/feathers and because it is cheap to use.

Important steam cleaning tip: If you are going to steam clean, make sure that you use a professional machine that produces true steam!Some domestic-use machines merely wet the carpet (or couch, bedding ...), rather than heat it up enough to kill the flea life cycle stages. Additionally, because the carpet may remain moist and humid for days to weeks after steam cleaning - anenvironmental change that is highly beneficial to surviving fleas - it is important to apply a flea insecticide to the steam-treated regions (carpet etc), and to any hosts present in the area, immediately after steam-cleaning to ensure that flea populationsdo not explode as a result of carpet wetting and a flea-favourable increase in humidity.

Hot water (>35 degrees) machine washing of pet bedding, clothing and pet toys should alsokill flea larvae and cocoons and remove fleas from these items.

Sunlight and drying, desiccating conditions outdoors will also kill larval fleas and flea pupae. Leaving pet beds, pet bedding and even removable mats and carpets out in the open sunlight for a few days (make sure that they are hot days with a very low air humidity) can also reduce flea larvae and flea pupae populations in these items. Note that especially large items (e.g. couches, mattresses),which could harbour flea life cycle stages deep within, away from the heat and dryingeffect of the sun, probably would not respond adequately to this treatment. Sunlight might also resultin bleaching and damage to these items.

A common source of flea egg, flea larvae and flea pupae contamination of outdoor yards and lawns is flea infested stray, feral and wild animal intruders coming into theyard. These animals will drop flea eggs (which hatch into flea larvae and develop into pupae) into your yard as they forage about for food and nesting sites.

As mentioned previously, discouraging these unwelcome flea-carrying creatures from coming into your yard can be an important way of preventing fleas from infesting your lawn and yard and soil in the first place. Discouragesuch animals (e.g. stray and feral cats and dogs) from your turf by:

  • ensuring that there is no food for them - e.g. lock garbage cans so that they are not attractive to critters, don't leave food bowls outside for them, don't leave uneaten pet food and half-chewed bones outside once your pet has finished with them and so on;
  • ensuring that there are no nesting and resting sites available for them (e.g. gaps under sheds, loose woodpiles, old machinery, car bodies, dense garden vegetation, small forest patches, gaps allowing access under houses and verandahs and so on);
  • putting up and maintaining good fences.
  • allowing your flea-free dog outside regularly if you have one (dogs generally discourage stray cats and other wild animals from coming into a yard, provided the presence of a dog does not result in copious amounts of food being left outside).
If unwelcome flea-carrying pests are, however, unable to be dissuaded from coming into your yard, despiteall your best efforts, you can adapt your yard to make it less flea life cycle friendly. Wild and feral animals will tend to drop eggs and larvae out in the open (lawn, grass, yard etc) as they forage about. Keeping lawns very short (frequently mowed) and garden-beds open and sparsely vegetated should be enough to cause flea eggs, flea larvae and pupae to beexposed to sunlight and the drying, desiccating effects of the open air. The liberal useof brick, concrete and stone surfaces in outdoor gardens and yards will also tend to kill off the various flea life cycle stages by way of sunlight-heat absorption and desiccation.


4) Forcing the pupae to hatch in the presence of a treated host animal and/or treated environment:
According to the flea life cycle, flea pupae only hatch in the presence of a host animal. In the absence of a host, flea cocoons simply remain silent and dormant - ticking time bombs in the animal's environment, waiting for a host to come along to bring them back to life.

Some of the products that treat various flea life cycle stages are toxic to certain animal species and ages. Read labels carefully.Owners of pets can induce environmental flea pupae to hatch (thereby depleting their numbers in theenvironment) by treating their pets with good quality, highly-reliable, long-acting adulticideflea control products and then introducing their pets into the cocoon infested environments.The presence of the pets (hosts) will induce the cocoons to hatch, but the adult fleas that hatch out of the cocoonswill die as soon as they try to access the pet hosts. Thus the flea life cycle willbe broken - the adult fleas hatching from the cocoons will not survive to produce more flea eggs, larvae and cocoons and the already-existent cocoons will hatch out and soon become depleted in number. Consequently, environmental flea populations will plummet.

Adulticide flea control products that are useful in the protection of host animals while flea cocoons are hatching:

  • Imidacloprid (tradenames include - Advantage Duo, Advantage for Dogs and Cats, Advantix, Advocate) - This product kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Imidacloprid is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the body within 12 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. Its effect lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" is safe to use on kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age (Bayer the manufacturer says the product can be used in pups and kittens from day 1, but that only treatment of the lactating bitch is needed to ensure that the pups/kittens are covered). "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" can also be used in pregnant dogs and cats as well as rabbits and ferrets (exercise caution with dosing). "Advantix" is not safe for cats. Advantage DUO is no longer manifactured.
  • Fipronil (tradenames include - Frontline Spray, Frontline Top Spot, Frontline Plus) - kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Fipronil is a very safe product (distributes over the body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. The effect of the 'spot-on' formula lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Frontline Spray" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 2 days of age (be careful of correct dosing, though, if used in the very young) and needs to be reapplied more regularly than the spot-on. "Frontline Top Spot" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 8 weeks of age. Fipronil is toxic to rabbits and ferrets.
  • Selamectin (tradenames include - Revolution) - kills fleas brilliantly as a spot-on skin treatment. Selamectin is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the host's body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. It lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Revolution" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age. Animals should be tested for heartworm if the product is to be administered to pets over 6 months of age, which have not previously been on heart worm prevention. It is safe to give to rabbits and ferrets and birds, including chickens and other poultry (ask your vet for doses and for with-holding times on meat and eggs, if using the product on production birds).
  • Spinosad (tradenames include - Comfortis) - This relatively new product kills adult fleas fantastically well as an oral tablet. The product has a fast knock-down effect to kill large infestations of adult fleas on dogs. Spinosad starts to kill fleas within 30 minutes of dosing the dog. The product is also long-lasting, maintaining its effect for up to 1 month after dosing. "Comfortis" is safe to use on puppies over 14 weeks of age. It should not be given to pregnant animals. It is not registered for cats. It also should not be given to animals with allergies to pork or those that have a history of epilepsy.
When vacuuming, using a vacuum cleaner that has a "beater bar" can be a very effective way of inducing pupal fleas to hatch. The bar sets up vibrations, which causes the pupal fleas to think thatthere is a host animal running around, inducing them to hatch. If the newly hatching fleas enter anunfriendly environment that has been recently sprayed or treated, with pets that are also treated withadulticide therapies, then those fleas will due rapidly, preventing the fleas life cycle from continuing.


5) Killing flea pupae in grass and soil using biological control means - predatory nematode worms:
Interrupt, NemaSeek and NemAttack (there may be others) are chemical-free, biological flea control products designed to kill flea larvae and flea pupae (and perhaps even adult fleas) in outdoor lawns and soil. These biological flea control products involve the use of various species of predatory nematode worms, which preyupon insects and their larvae: Steinernema carpocapsae, Steinernema feltiae or Heterorhabditis bacteriophora.These tiny predator worms are sprinkled liberally onto moist, flea-infested grass and soil where they attack and invade the bodies of flea larvae and pupae (and maybe adult fleas) andalso various other insect pests (e.g. termites). The worms live and multiply inside of these prey insectspecies, feeding on the insect's innards, before spilling out of the dead insect's body togo off in search of more prey.

The choice of which nematode product to use depends on several factors:
  • climate - Steinernema carpocapsae prefers cooler climates, Steinernema feltiae prefers hotter climates and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora can tolerate either
  • the mobility of the target pest - Steinernema carpocapsae and Steinernema feltiae are ambush predators that prefer mobile pests, which come to them. In contrast, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora (NemaSeek) is a mobile, "search-and-destroy" worm that will seek out less mobile pests and kill them
  • the soil quality - Steinernema carpocapsae and Steinernema feltiae prefer open, sandy or disturbed soils, whereas Heterorhabditis bacteriophora likes clayish or undisturbed soil.
According to instruction sheets, these nematode-based flea products should be applied to lawnsand soil (preferably soil with some sort of ground cover) immediately prior to the start of the flea season. If flea insecticides have been used on the yard, you should wait at least 30 days before applying thenematode products to the grass or soil as the worms will be killed by the flea control products. For best effect, the yard should be kept moist enough to "keep the grass green" (watering the yard every 3-4 days should be enough). Nematodes will need to be reapplied every 4-6 weeks tokeep their numbers high.

Disclaimer - Pet Informed can make no claims about any of these biological flea control products and their efficacy and nor can we give any guarantee about what other unwanted side effects (e.g. decimation of beneficial ants and other insects) might occur as a result of their use.A link is included at the end of the page so that you can research more into these kinds of products if interested.



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2f) Flea Life Cycle 6 - The cocoon hatches and an adult flea comes out, looking for mates and a host animal to feed on:

Flea Life Cycle 6 - The cocoon hatches and an adult flea comes out, looking for mates and a host animal to feed on.The pupa contained inside of the flea cocoon hatches out in the presence of a host animal and an adultflea appears. Just like a butterfly caterpillar spins a cocoon around itself in order to metamorphoseinto an adult butterfly, so too does the flea larva need to spin a cocoon around itself in order to change into anadult flea. The cocoon of the flea pupa is very sticky and tends to become covered in dirt, danderand debris from the surrounding environment, making it almost impossible for pet owners to recognise.

The flea cocoon or pupa is the most long-lived stage of the flea life cycle - taking anywhere up to a year or more to hatch. The pupa is the life cycle stage of the flea that is the most vitalto a flea population's persistence in a host environment. The reason why this stage of the flea life cycleis so important to the flea population as a whole is because of the fact that flea cocoons generally only hatch in the presence of a host animal. They hatch in response to the host animal's warmth, movement (the host animal produces vibrations, as it walks over the carpet and flooring,which trigger the fleas to hatch out) and breathed-out CO2.

Flea pupae do not generally hatch out spontaneously, in response to a certain time limit or a change inseason. Instead, they wait until a host animal is available for feeding on and for all of the requirements forthe flea life cycle to be completed successfully to be present (they are very clever). For this reason, simply depopulatinga previously-infested environment and leaving it free of hosts for a specified period of timeis no guarantee of fleas not hatching back to life when the host animals finally return (unless you are willingto leave the environment depopulated for over a year). The fleas will simply lie dormant intheir cocoons and wait - they can wait for many many months for a host to reappear. They arepatient. Cocoon eradication is, thus, very important if an environment is to be completely freed of fleas.

Author's note: It is VERY important to consider the environment of the hostwhen attempting to eradicate and eliminate fleas from a host animal. A huge part of the flea life cycleoccurs off the host animal. If an animal has adult fleas on its coat, then the pet's environment has many more eggs, larvae and pupal fleas just waiting to develop into adults and hop on board. You must treatthe host and the host's environment to get rid of fleas.



The significance of this flea life cycle stage with regard to flea control and flea prevention:

In order to break this link of the flea life cycle chain: any viable flea pupae that do exist within the host animal's environment need to be removed or destroyed or forcibly inducedto hatch into adult fleas in the presence of adulticide flea killers. Flea pupae can be killed using a range of flea control techniques (steps 3, and 5); the total numbers of flea larvae and pupae present in the pet's environment can be reduced by various means of environmental decontamination (steps 1 and 2) and pupae can be induced to hatch into an insecticide-treated environment using various methods (step 4). All of these options for breaking this part of the flea life cycle are discussed below.



1) Physical flea pupae removal from the host environment by vacuuming:
Never underestimate the value of simple, frequent, thorough vacuuming in helping to get rid offleas from a dog or cat's environment. Flea eggs, flea larvae and flea pupae in carpets, couches, human and pet beds and other indoors areas can be sucked away by regular vacuuming, reducing the environmental flea burden overall. All regions of the house should be vacuumed, where possible, but important emphasis should be placed on carpets, soft furniture (e.g. couches), floors underneath furniture, floors underneathremovable rugs and mats and gaps under side boards. Using a vacuum cleaner with a beater bar can help to shake flea eggs, larvae and cocoons out from places deeperwithin the carpet proper and improve the vacuum uptake of these flea life cycle stages. The beaterbar will also set up vibrations that should induce flea pupae to hatch (see step 4). Aftereach vacuuming, the vacuum bag should be disposed of, lest fleas start hatching and breeding insideof the vacuum bag!

Don't forget the car! A significant source of reservoir environmental flea infestation and subsequenthost animal reinfestation is the car. Flea infested animals drop eggs into the car during car trips - these flea eggs can hatch into larvae and go through the entire flea life cycle inside of the car. As it is often not a good idea to use pesticides inside of a car (pesticidesand insecticides can release toxic fumes that are poisonous to people when the car interior heats up) frequent vacuuming is one of the safer ways of ridding the car of flea eggs, larvae and cocoons. In very hot, dry climates (e.g. Australia in Summer), persistent flea infestation of a car is not as likely because the car, when it is parked outside, will usually heat up to temperature levels beyond that of larval and pupal survival.


2) Physical flea pupae removal from the host's environment by the removal and replacementof contaminated regions:
In long-term, heavy flea infestations the pet's bedding, and various other cool, moist, indoors regions where the pet spends most of its time (like the couch and the carpet), can become veryheavily infested with eggs, larvae and pupal stages. These places may be very difficult to get the fleas out ofif they are heavily infested. Consequently, some owners are forced reduce their house flea populations by removing these environmental flea havens altogether and replacing them with clean ones - new carpet, new pet bedding, new couch and so on.

Even better, instead of replacing the old infested carpet and couch with more of the same (i.e. another flea-attractive carpet or couch to reinfest anew), many owners assist their flea elimination efforts by replacing their old carpets and couches and the like with floors, seating and bedding made from easy-to-clean, flea-unfriendlymaterials. Flea unfriendly floors that do not support the flea life cycle include: linoleum, slate, stone, varnished floorboards and tiles. Flea unfriendly seating materialsthat do not support the flea life cycle include: non-porous vinyl, plastic and wood. Covering a new couch entirely (including underneath) with a clear plastic cover that is non-permeable to flealife cycle stages (including larvae) will ensure that the couch remains clean and does not becomea nursery for flea pupae and juvenile fleas.

Author's note - complete removal and replacement of contaminated bedding and carpetand the like is a useful way of dramatically reducing the populations of the off-host stages of the flealife cycle in the host's environment. It will not, however, do much for flea numbers in the long term if thefleas on the host (or hosts) are not eradicated too. Adult flea killing chemicals(the BIG 5 in section 2a) should be used on the host animal/s in conjunction with this environmental replacementmode of flea control, to avoid having the new carpet, new couch and so on re-infested with fleas.

Author's note - removing and replacing an entire dog kennel is probably not warranted, unless thefloor of the kennel and/or its walls are made of a fabric that holds fleas and pupae. If the walls and floor of thekennel are made of smooth, hard, easy to wash materials (metal, hard plastic) then only the pet's beddingneeds to be discarded and not the kennel itself. The kennel can be steam cleaned (>35 degrees-Celsius) and/or disinfected with a pyrethrin-containing wash and rinsed, dried and used again. Open-floor kennels standing on grass or soil can be washed likewise and then the kennel should be relocated to a differentregion of the yard, well away from the original location, to let the sun and dry air kill the flealife cycle stages present in the grass and soil of the first area.

3) Physical flea pupae removal from the host's environment by heat and drying:
Temperatures of 13-32 degrees-Celsius and relative humidities in the range of 50-90% are required in order for flea development to progress according to the flea life cycle diagram presented above. Desiccating (drying), low-humidity environmental conditions and temperatures in excess of 35 degrees-Celsius are lethal to flea larvae and cocoons (flea pupae) - important flea information that can be very useful in the non-chemical management and control of flea infestation problems.

Steam clean the pet's environment only, NOT the pet. It seems silly to have to state it, but it happens!Steam cleaning can be used to destroy flea larvae and flea cocoons present in households and is of particularuse in the removal of fleas from carpets, pet bedding, human bedding, couches and animal runs and dog kennels.It is one of the more useful natural home remedies for killing fleas in carpet and other contaminated environmental regions because it uses no chemicals, only heat and water, and because it kills the majorreservoir of flea infestation: the flea pupa (flea cocoon). Steam cleaning is also a greatnatural flea control remedy in commercial dog and cat and poultry breeding facilities because steam can be used to thoroughly and rapidly clean out kennels, runs and concrete yards and because steam cleaning uses no chemicals that might poison the animals; accumulate in the environment; contaminate meat and/or fur/feathers and because it is cheap to use.

Important steam cleaning tip: If you are going to steam clean, make sure that you use a professional machine that produces true steam!Some house-use machines merely wet the carpet (or couch, bedding ...), rather than heat it up enough to kill the flea life cycle stages. Additionally, because the carpet may remain moist and humid for days to weeks after steam cleaning - anenvironmental change that is highly beneficial to surviving fleas - it is important to apply a flea insecticide to the steam-treated regions (carpet etc), and to any hosts present in the area, immediately after steam-cleaning to ensure that flea populationsdo not explode as a result of carpet wetting and a flea-favourable increase in humidity.

Hot water (>35 degrees) machine washing of pet bedding, clothing and pet toys should alsokill flea larvae and cocoons and remove fleas from these items.

Sunlight and drying, desiccating conditions outdoors will also kill larval fleas and flea pupae. Leaving pet beds, pet bedding and even removable mats and carpets out in the open sunlight for a few days (make sure that they are hot days with a very low air humidity) can also reduce flea larvae and flea pupae populations in these items. Note that especially large items (e.g. couches, mattresses),which could harbour flea life cycle stages deep within, away from the heat and dryingeffect of the sun, probably would not respond adequately to this treatment. Sunlight might also resultin bleaching and damage to these items.

A common source of flea egg, flea larvae and flea pupae contamination of outdoor yards and lawns is flea infested stray, feral and wild animal intruders coming into theyard. These animals will drop flea eggs (which hatch into flea larvae and develop into pupae) into your yard as they forage about for food and nesting sites.

As mentioned previously, discouraging these unwelcome flea-carrying creatures from coming into your yard can be an important way of preventing fleas from infesting your lawn and yard and soil in the first place. Discouragesuch animals (e.g. stray and feral cats and dogs) from your turf by:
  • ensuring that there is no food for them - e.g. lock garbage cans so that they are not attractive to critters, don't leave food bowls outside for them, don't leave uneaten pet food and half-chewed bones outside once your pet has finished with them and so on;
  • ensuring that there are no nesting and resting sites available for them (e.g. gaps under sheds, loose woodpiles, old machinery, car bodies, dense garden vegetation, small forest patches, gaps allowing access under houses and verandahs and so on);
  • putting up and maintaining good fences.
  • allowing your flea-free dog outside regularly if you have one (dogs generally discourage stray cats and other wild animals from coming into a yard, provided the presence of a dog does not result in copious amounts of food being left outside).
If unwelcome flea-carrying pests are, however, unable to be dissuaded from coming into your yard, despiteall your best efforts, you can adapt your yard to make it less flea life cycle friendly. Wild and feral animals will tend to drop eggs and larvae out in the open (lawn, grass, yard etc) as they forage about. Keeping lawns very short (frequently mowed) and garden-beds open and sparsely vegetated should be enough to cause flea eggs, flea larvae and pupae to beexposed to sunlight and the drying, desiccating effects of the open air. The liberal useof brick, concrete and stone surfaces in outdoor gardens and yards will also tend to kill off the various flea life cycle stages by way of sunlight-heat absorption and desiccation.


4) Forcing the pupae to hatch in the presence of a treated host animal and/or treated environment:
According to the flea life cycle, flea pupae only hatch in the presence of a host animal. In the absence of a host, flea cocoons simply remain silent and dormant - ticking time bombs in the animal's environment, waiting for a host to come along to bring them back to life.

Some of the products that treat various flea life cycle stages are toxic to certain animal species and ages. Read labels carefully.Owners of pets can induce environmental flea pupae to hatch (thereby depleting their numbers in theenvironment) by treating their pets with good quality, highly-reliable, long-acting adulticideflea control products and then introducing their pets into the cocoon infested environments.The presence of the pets (hosts) will induce the cocoons to hatch, but the adult fleas that hatch out of the cocoonswill die as soon as they try to access the pet hosts. Thus the flea life cycle willbe broken - the adult fleas hatching from the cocoons will not survive to produce more flea eggs, larvae and cocoons and the already-existent cocoons will hatch out and soon become depleted in number. Consequently, environmental flea populations will plummet.

Adulticide flea control products that are useful in the protection of host animals while flea cocoons are hatching:

  • Imidacloprid (tradenames include - Advantage Duo, Advantage for Dogs and Cats, Advantix, Advocate) - This product kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Imidacloprid is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the body within 12 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. Its effect lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" is safe to use on kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age (Bayer the manufacturer says the product can be used in pups and kittens from day 1, but that only treatment of the lactating bitch is needed to ensure that the pups/kittens are covered). "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" can also be used in pregnant dogs and cats as well as rabbits and ferrets (exercise caution with dosing). "Advantix" is not safe for cats. Advantage DUO is no longer manifactured.
  • Fipronil (tradenames include - Frontline Spray, Frontline Top Spot, Frontline Plus) - kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Fipronil is a very safe product (distributes over the body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. The effect of the 'spot-on' formula lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Frontline Spray" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 2 days of age (be careful of correct dosing, though, if used in the very young) and needs to be reapplied more regularly than the spot-on. "Frontline Top Spot" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 8 weeks of age. Fipronil is toxic to rabbits and ferrets.
  • Selamectin (tradenames include - Revolution) - kills fleas brilliantly as a spot-on skin treatment. Selamectin is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the host's body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. It lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Revolution" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age. Animals should be tested for heartworm if the product is to be administered to pets over 6 months of age, which have not previously been on heart worm prevention. It is safe to give to rabbits and ferrets and birds, including chickens and other poultry (ask your vet for doses and for with-holding times on meat and eggs, if using the product on production birds).
  • Spinosad (tradenames include - Comfortis) - This relatively new product kills adult fleas fantastically well as an oral tablet. The product has a fast knock-down effect to kill large infestations of adult fleas on dogs. Spinosad starts to kill fleas within 30 minutes of dosing the dog. The product is also long-lasting, maintaining its effect for up to 1 month after dosing. "Comfortis" is safe to use on puppies over 14 weeks of age. It should not be given to pregnant animals. It is not registered for cats. It also should not be given to animals with allergies to pork or those that have a history of epilepsy.
When vacuuming, using a vacuum cleaner that has a "beater bar" can be a very effective way of inducing pupal fleas to hatch. The beater bar is designed to bounce on the carpet and shake-up and dislodge imbedded dirt, for a better and more thorough vacuum clean, however, it also has the added benefit of setting up vibrations, which cause the pupal fleas to think that there is a host animal running around. This induces them to hatch. If the newly hatching fleas enter anunfriendly environment that has been recently sprayed or treated, with pets that are also treated withadulticide therapies, then those fleas will due rapidly, preventing the fleas life cycle from continuing.


5) Killing flea pupae in grass and soil using biological control means - predatory nematode worms:
Interrupt, NemaSeek and NemAttack (there may be others) are chemical-free, biological flea control products designed to kill flea larvae and flea pupae (and perhaps even adult fleas, according toits MSDS sheet) in outdoor lawns and soil. These biological flea control products involve the use of various species of predatory nematode worms, which preyupon insects and their larvae: Steinernema carpocapsae, Steinernema feltiae or Heterorhabditis bacteriophora.These tiny predator worms are sprinkled liberally onto moist, flea-infested grass and soil where they attack and invade the bodies of flea larvae and pupae (and maybe adult fleas) andalso various other insect pests (e.g. termites). The worms live and multiply inside of these prey insectspecies, feeding on the insect's innards, before spilling out of the dead insect's body togo off in search of more prey.

The choice of which nematode product to use depends on several factors:
  • climate - Steinernema carpocapsae prefers cooler climates, Steinernema feltiae prefers hotter climates and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora can tolerate either
  • the mobility of the target pest - Steinernema carpocapsae and Steinernema feltiae are ambush predators that prefer mobile pests, which come to them. In contrast, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora (NemaSeek) is a mobile, "search-and-destroy" worm that will seek out less mobile pests and kill them
  • the soil quality - Steinernema carpocapsae and Steinernema feltiae prefer open, sandy or disturbed soils, whereas Heterorhabditis bacteriophora likes clayish or undisturbed soil.

According to instruction sheets, these nematode-based flea products should be applied to lawnsand soil (preferably soil with some sort of ground cover) immediately prior to the start of the flea season. If flea insecticides have been used on the yard, you should wait at least 30 days before applying thenematode products to the grass or soil as the worms will be killed by the flea control products. For best effect, the yard should be kept moist enough to "keep the grass green" (watering the yard every 3-4 days should be enough). Nematodes will need to be reapplied every 4-6 weeks tokeep their numbers high.

Disclaimer - Pet Informed can make no claims about any of these biological flea control products and their efficacy and nor can we give any guarantee about what other unwanted side effects (e.g. decimation of beneficial ants and other insects) might occur as a result of their use.A link is included at the end of the page so that you can research more into these kinds of products if interested.



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2g) Flea Life Cycle 7 - The adult male and female fleas jump onto the host animal to feed, mate and lay eggs:

Flea Life Cycle 7 - The adult male and female fleas jump onto the host animal to feed, mate and lay eggs.The newly-hatched adult fleas seek out the host animal and jump aboard, starting the flea life cycle all over again.

In the case of Ctenocephalides (the dog or cat flea), both the male and female adult fleas will migrate onto the host animal's skin and live, feed and breed there.Of the two sexes, however, it is the female flea that is the bigger blood-sucker, drinking farmore of the host's blood than any of the male fleas that climb on board. Conversely, in certain other flealife cycles (e.g. Echidnophaga), the adult male flea remains in the host's environment and only the adult female flea actually inhabits the furcoat of the host animal. Either way, the most important thing to remember is that it is the female flea who is the major animal hostparasite and the predominant blood-sucker of the two flea sexes.

The main reason why the female flea needs to parasitise the host animal is because, after breeding with the male flea, she needs a blood meal in order for her eggs to develop fully. Without a host, adult female fleas will starve and be unable to produce any viable eggs.

It is important to remember that the household is not the only place where domestic pets can pick up adult fleas. Any place where lots of dogs and cats and other flea hosts spend time can develop a flea problem. All it takes is for flea infested pets to drop eggs into the environment and for enough unprotected hosts to come and go to keep the infection and flea transmission rates high.Consequently, dog parks, boarding kennels, catteries, breeding facilities, grooming salons, vet clinics, showground facilities and pet 'day care' centres should all be considered high risk for contracting adult fleasand thus flea infestation if a pet host is not sufficiently flea protected (i.e. with adulticide flea preventatives).

Fleas can also build up to significant levels in places where there are enough infested wild and stray or feral animal hosts to keep the flea life cycle going. Rabbit burrows, wolf and coyote dens, feral and stray cat haunts and feral and wild dog dens can build up a large adult fleapopulation that is just waiting for your cat or dog to happen by and catch them. Additionally,flea infested wild and feral animals can take up residence in a pet owner's yard (e.g. in sheds, wood-piles, under the house, under the verandah), resulting in a significant flea egg, larvae andadult flea build-up in the regions they inhabit. These flea parasites can then infest domestic pets, particularly if these pets venture into the nesting sites where the wild animal lives (e.g. the pet goes under the house).



The significance of this flea life cycle stage with regard to flea control and flea prevention:

In order to break this link of the flea life cycle chain, the adult fleas in the environmenthave to be killed or otherwise removed from the pet's environment and/or prevented from accessing the host animal altogether. Adult fleas can be prevented from accessing thepet physically (steps 1 and 6); they can be killed immediately upon accessing the pet chemically (steps 2 and 3); they can be killed in the environment, prior to accessingthe host (steps 5 and 7) and they can be physically removed from the host environment prior to accessing the host animal (step 4). All of these options for breaking this part of the flea life cycleare discussed below.



1) Preventing the fleas from reaching the host animal:
In commercial animal production, high-host-population situations, like cat and dog breeding facilities, rabbit farming facilities and poultry farming facilities, newly-hatched adult fleas in the host environment can be prevented from reaching the host animals if the host animals are kept high up, out of reach of the fleas' jump.Fleas can leap just over 30cm in height and so hanging animal cages well above this height(say, 50cm above the ground) should keep the host animals out of reach of the newly hatched adult fleas, therefore breaking the flea life cycle.

Author's note: there are obviously important animal welfare issues associated with keeping dogs, cats, poultry and rabbits in cages of any kind, however, this discussion point does give a valuable example of how knowledge of the flea life cycle and the physicality of the insects themselves can be used against these parasites inthe prevention of flea infestation in commercial animal industries.


2) Forcing the adult fleas to emerge in the presence of a treated host animal and/or treated environment:
According to the flea life cycle, flea pupae only hatch in the presence of a host animal. In the absence of a host, the flea cocoons simply remain silent and dormant - ticking time bombs in the animal's environment, waiting for a host to come along to bring them back to life.

Some of the products that treat various flea life cycle stages are toxic to certain animal species and ages. Read labels carefully.Owners of pets can induce environmental flea pupae to hatch (thereby depleting their numbers in theenvironment) by treating their pets with good quality, highly-reliable, long-acting adulticideflea control products and then introducing their pets into the cocoon infested environments.The presence of the pets (hosts) will induce the cocoons to hatch, but the adult fleas that hatch out of the cocoonswill die as soon as they try to access the pet hosts. Thus the flea life cycle willbe broken - the adult fleas hatching from the cocoons will not survive to produce more flea eggs, larvae and cocoons and the already-existent cocoons will hatch out and soon become depleted in number. Consequently, environmental flea populations will plummet.

Adulticide flea control products that are useful in the protection of host animals while flea cocoons are hatching:

  • Imidacloprid (tradenames include - Advantage Duo, Advantage for Dogs and Cats, Advantix, Advocate) - This product kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Imidacloprid is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the body within 12 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. Its effect lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" is safe to use on kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age (Bayer the manufacturer says the product can be used in pups and kittens from day 1, but that only treatment of the lactating bitch is needed to ensure that the pups/kittens are covered). "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" can also be used in pregnant dogs and cats as well as rabbits and ferrets (exercise caution with dosing). "Advantix" is not safe for cats. Advantage DUO is no longer manifactured.
  • Fipronil (tradenames include - Frontline Spray, Frontline Top Spot, Frontline Plus) - kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Fipronil is a very safe product (distributes over the body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. The effect of the 'spot-on' formula lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Frontline Spray" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 2 days of age (be careful of correct dosing, though, if used in the very young) and needs to be reapplied more regularly than the spot-on. "Frontline Top Spot" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 8 weeks of age. Fipronil is toxic to rabbits and ferrets.
  • Selamectin (tradenames include - Revolution) - kills fleas brilliantly as a spot-on skin treatment. Selamectin is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the host's body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. It lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Revolution" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age. Animals should be tested for heartworm if the product is to be administered to pets over 6 months of age, which have not previously been on heart worm prevention. It is safe to give to rabbits and ferrets and birds, including chickens and other poultry (ask your vet for doses and for with-holding times on meat and eggs, if using the product on production birds).
  • Spinosad (tradenames include - Comfortis) - This relatively new product kills adult fleas fantastically well as an oral tablet. The product has a fast knock-down effect to kill large infestations of adult fleas on dogs. Spinosad starts to kill fleas within 30 minutes of dosing the dog. The product is also long-lasting, maintaining its effect for up to 1 month after dosing. "Comfortis" is safe to use on puppies over 14 weeks of age. It should not be given to pregnant animals. It is not registered for cats. It also should not be given to animals with allergies to pork or those that have a history of epilepsy.

When vacuuming, using a vacuum cleaner that has a "beater bar" can be a very effective way of inducing pupal fleas to hatch. The beater bar is designed to bounce on the carpet and shake-up and dislodge imbedded dirt, for a better and more thorough vacuum clean, however, it also has the added benefit of setting up vibrations, which cause the pupal fleas to think that there is a host animal running around. This induces them to hatch. If the newly hatching fleas enter anunfriendly environment that has been recently sprayed or treated, with pets that are also treated withadulticide therapies, then those fleas will due rapidly, preventing the fleas life cycle from continuing.


3) Adult flea killers:
Adult female and male fleas are required in order for flea egg production to occur and for subsequent environmental contamination with eggs, flea larvae and flea pupae (cocoons) to occur. No reproducing adult fleas eventually means no flea life cycle and no fleas on the host animal/s and no fleas in the house, carpet, commercial premises, yard or lawn.

If host animals are treated with a good flea control product that kills all adult fleas within 2 days ofthe flea/s reaching the host animal, then no flea eggs will be produced (after all, it takes 2 days for adult fleas to create eggs after jumping into a host and feeding on its blood). Many flea products are on themarket, which kill adult fleas very rapidly (many kill adult fleas well within 24 hours of them touching the host animal).

Routine, preventative application of an adulticide flea control product whenever a 'clean' (flea-free)pet goes into an environment with fleas or a high likelihood of encountering flea-carrying hosts (e.g. dog-shows, boarding kennels, veterinary clinics, agility trials, bushland, wilderness with wild and feral animals,multiple-dog and multi-cat households, farmland etc.) can prevent a non-flea-infested household from ever having fleas brought into the home by the dog or cat. The adult fleas die immediately upon contact with the host animal's treated coat and never make it into the home to lay any eggs.

The "Big 5" Adult Flea Killers:

  • Nitenpyram (tradenames include Capstar) - This product kills adult fleas fantastically well as a once-off, oral tablet. The product is often used by vets as a fast knock-down to kill large infestations of adult fleas on dogs and cats. Nitenpyram starts to kill fleas within 30 minutes of dosing the pet. The product is short-lasting, however, and needs to be given daily to have any ongoing effect (unlike many of the spot-ons below, which last for up to 1 month). Pet owners often dose pets with Nitenpyram once or twice to get rid of large flea infestations (massive flea burdens) on their pet and then follow up with a monthly flea control product for ongoing flea protection. Nitenpyram is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 4 weeks of age so long as they weigh over 2 pounds.
  • Imidacloprid (tradenames include - Advantage Duo, Advantage for Dogs and Cats, Advantix, Advocate) - This product kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Imidacloprid is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the body within 12 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. Its effect lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" is safe to use on kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age (Bayer the manufacturer says the product can be used in pups and kittens from day 1, but that only treatment of the lactating bitch is needed to ensure that the pups/kittens are covered). "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" can also be used in pregnant dogs and cats as well as rabbits and ferrets (exercise caution with dosing). "Advantix" is not safe for cats. Advantage DUO is no longer manifactured.
  • Fipronil (tradenames include - Frontline Spray, Frontline Top Spot, Frontline Plus) - kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Fipronil is a very safe product (distributes over the body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. The effect of the 'spot-on' formula lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Frontline Spray" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 2 days of age (be careful of correct dosing, though, if used in the very young) and needs to be reapplied more regularly than the spot-on. "Frontline Top Spot" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 8 weeks of age. Fipronil is toxic to rabbits and ferrets.
  • Selamectin (tradenames include - Revolution) - kills fleas as a spot-on skin treatment. Selamectin is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the host's body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. It lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Revolution" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age. Animals should be tested for heartworm if the product is to be administered to pets over 6 months of age, which have not previously been on heart worm prevention. It is safe to give to rabbits and ferrets and birds, including chickens and other poultry (ask your vet for doses and for with-holding times on meat and eggs, if using the product on production birds).
  • Spinosad (tradenames include - Comfortis) - This relatively new product kills adult fleas fantastically well as an oral tablet. The product has a fast knock-down effect to kill large infestations of adult fleas on dogs. Spinosad starts to kill fleas within 30 minutes of dosing the dog. The product is also long-lasting, maintaining its effect for up to 1 month after dosing. "Comfortis" is safe to use on puppies over 14 weeks of age. It should not be given to pregnant animals. It is not registered for cats. It also should not be given to animals with allergies to pork or those that have a history of epilepsy.
Note that some of these products (especially the spot-ons) will require up to 24 hours to distribute all over the host's body (and therefore kill all of the fleas) if they have never been used on the pet before.


Other adulticide (adult flea killer) flea control options:
  • Organophosphate-based or carbamate-based flea rinses, flea sprays, flea powders and flea collars (active ingredients include - coumaphos, chlorpyrifos, flumethrin, fenthion, maldison, diazinon, temephos, cythioate, carbaryl and others) - will kill adult fleas as a once-off treatment. Flea control products containing these insecticides often need to be applied regularly to have any reliable ongoing effect against adult fleas and many of these products have the potential to be quite toxic to pet owners and bathed animals (pet owners should wear gloves when using) if applied frequently. Organophosphate-based or carbamate-based flea powders are occasionally used to treat fleas in poultry. Most, but not all, of the organophosphate-based or carbamate-based flea control products are toxic to cats, even in skin application or flea collar form, so please read the flea product labels closely.
  • Permethrin-based flea rinses, flea sprays, flea powders and flea collars (active ingredients include - permethrin, cypermethrin) - will kill adult fleas as a once-off treatment. Flea control products containing these insecticides often need to be applied regularly to have any reliable ongoing effect against adult fleas and many of these products have the potential to be quite toxic to pet owners and bathed animals (pet owners should wear gloves when using) if applied frequently. Permethrin-based flea control products are often used to manage poultry flea infestations. Some, but not all, of the permethrin-based flea control products are toxic to cats, even in skin application or flea collar form, so please read the flea product labels closely.
  • Pyrethrin product flea rinses, flea sprays, flea powders and flea collars (active ingredients include - pyrethrin) - will kill adult fleas as a once-off application. Flea control products containing this insecticide often need to be applied regularly to have any reliable ongoing effect against adult fleas and many of these products have the potential to be quite toxic to pet owners and bathed animals (pet owners should wear gloves when using) if applied frequently. Pyrethrin is often used in the treatment and control of flea infestations on poultry. Although most of the pyrethrin-based flea control products available on the market are not toxic to kittens and puppies over 3 months of age, some of them will produce toxic side effects in some cats. Please read the flea control product labels closely to be sure.
  • Piperonyl butoxide, contained in some flea rinses, flea sprays, flea powders and flea collars, does have some insect killing and flea repellant properties. Although the insecticide has a low toxicity for animals, it is generally not that useful or effective at killing fleas on its own. It tends to be mostly used as an adjunct to permethrin or pyrethrin in many flea control products.
Treat all host animals to stop the flea life cycle.It is important to note that many of these organophosphate-based, carbamate-based, permethrin-basedand pyrethrin-based flea control products do not have a long-acting effect (only days in some cases) and will require regular retreatment to maintain an adult flea killing action. Regular reapplication increases therisks of toxicity to both pets and their owners. Additionally, some of these product formulations do not distribute their active ingredients all over the pet's coat, ensuring thatsome adult fleas will still be able to find safe harbours on the treated host's body to live and feed and breed. Flea collars (the bane of all vets) are a good example of this - they kill all of the fleas on the front half of the pet, but do nothing to the fleas on the animal's bottom, thighs and tail. Hence, the flea life cycle is able to continue and environmental contamination with eggs, larvae and pupae is able to occur.

Important author's note: In order for the flea life cycle to be broken, the adult fleas emergingfrom the cocoons must not be able to find any hosts on which to safely get a blood meal. For this reason, it is important that all animal hosts in the household (cats and dogs and rabbits and so on) be keptup-to-date with their flea prevention and that all are treated for fleas at the same time as one another.


4) Physical flea removal from the host environment by vacuuming:
Never underestimate the value of simple, frequent, thorough vacuuming in helping to get rid offleas from a dog or cat's environment. Adult fleas in carpets, couches, human and pet beds and other indoors areas can be sucked away by regular vacuuming, reducing the environmental flea burden overall. All regions of the house should be vacuumed, where possible, but important emphasis should be placed on carpets, soft furniture (e.g. couches), floors underneath furniture, floors underneathremovable rugs and mats and gaps under side boards. Using a vacuum cleaner with a beater bar can help to shake flea eggs, larvae, cocoons and adults out from places deeperwithin the carpet proper and improve the vacuum uptake of these flea life cycle stages. Aftereach vacuuming, the vacuum bag should be disposed of, lest adult fleas escape from the vacuum bag.

Don't forget the car! A significant source of reservoir environmental flea infestation and subsequenthost animal reinfestation is the car. Flea infested animals drop eggs into the car during car trips - these flea eggs can hatch into larvae and go through the entire flea life cycle inside of the car. As it is often not a good idea to use pesticides inside of a car (pesticidesand insecticides can release toxic fumes that are poisonous to people when the car interior heats up) frequent vacuuming is one of the safer ways of ridding the car of flea eggs, larvae, cocoons and adult fleas. In very hot, dry climates (e.g. Australia in Summer), persistent flea infestation of a car is not as likely because the car, when it is parked outside, will usually heat up to temperature levels beyond that of larval and pupal survival.


5) Elimination of adult fleas from the host's environment before they can access the host animal/s:
Many of the products, which have been manufactured to kill adult fleas on the cat or dog, have also been designed to kill flea larvae and newly emerged adult fleas that existwithin the host animal's environment.

These adult flea products achieve this environmental adult and larval flea killing effect in one of two main ways:
A) as an incidental effect - the flea control product placed directly onto the pet's coat to kill the adult fleas also happens to kill larval fleas and newly-emerged adult fleas through contamination of the larval and new-adult flea's environmentwith treated pet dander or through larval or adult flea contact with the treated pet itself (i.e. the larval fleasand newly-emerged adult fleas make contact with the treated pet's body when the pet rests upon a flea-rich environment like a pet bed or a flea-infested carpet) or
B) as a deliberate effect - a chemical insecticide, capable of killing both adult fleas and larvae, is applied directly to the larval and newly-emerged adult flea's environment (in the form of a flea bomb, flea spray, flea fogger, flea rinse or flea powder) for the purposes of adult and larval flea eradication.


A) Adulticide ("adult killing") flea control products that kill flea larvae and newly emerged adult fleas as an incidental effect:
Some of the adulticide flea products applied directly to the host animal's fur for the purposes ofkilling adult fleas on the fur also have a secondary role in the killing of larval and newly-emerged adult fleas in the host's local environment. This environmental flea killing effect occurs when medicated dander (dandruff) from the pet's coat (laden in insecticide) falls into the flea's environment. It also occurs whenthe treated coat of the pet comes into direct contact with the flea larvae and young adult fleas(this flea contact occurs most commonly when the pet is at rest and laying down in a flea infested environment - e.g. the pet's bedding, house carpet).

Flea products that kill larval and newly-emerged adult fleas as an incidental effect include:
  • Imidacloprid (tradenames include - Advantage Duo, Advantage for Dogs and Cats, Advantix, Advocate) - kills adult fleas brilliantly as a spot-on skin treatment. Imidacloprid is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the body within 12 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. Imidacloprid kills flea larvae that come into direct contact with the treated pet's fur and it also coats the dander falling from the pet (this treated dander will kill flea larvae in the pet's environment). Its effect lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" is safe to use on kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age (Bayer the manufacturer says the product can be used in pups and kittens from day 1, but that only treatment of the lactating bitch is needed to ensure that the pups/kittens are covered). "Advantage for Dogs and Cats" can also be used in pregnant dogs and cats as well as rabbits and ferrets (exercise caution with dosing). "Advantix" is not safe for cats. Advantage DUO is no longer manifactured.
  • Selamectin (tradenames include - Revolution) - kills adult fleas brilliantly as a spot-on skin treatment. Selamectin is a very safe, fast-acting product (distributes over the host's body within 24 hours) for wiping out large flea burdens on animals. As an added effect, it kills flea larvae that come into direct contact with the treated pet's fur and it also coats the dander falling from the pet (this treated dander will kill flea larvae in the pet's environment). It lasts for up to 1 month before needing reapplication. "Revolution" is safe to use in kittens and puppies over 6 weeks of age. Animals should be tested for heartworm if the product is to be administered to pets over 6 months of age, which have not previously been on heart worm prevention.
Some of the flea control products used to break the various parts of the flea life cycle are toxic to certain animal species and ages of animal. Read labels carefully.

Author's Note - Because these host-applied flea control products only kill flea larvae and young adults as an incidental effect (i.e. upon contact with a treated host) it is, therefore, most likely that only the flea stages that are present in the environment where the pet hangs out and goes a lot are going to be killed. Flea larvae and young adults that hatch in places outside of the host'snormal range of movement (i.e. in places the host visits very infrequently) are unlikely to be exposedto the treated host or its dander and to, therefore, survive. These incidental products are not hugely reliable as "whole-environment" flea control products because theyrely on the pet for environmental distribution - if the pet does not go everywhere that the environmentalfleas are, then some flea larvae and flea adults will be left alive in the environment to continue the flea life cycle.


B) Flea control products that kill flea larvae and environmental adults as a deliberate effect:
Some of the organophosphate, carbamate, pyrethrin and permethrin chemicals used in certain adulticide flea control products applied directly to the pet's fur are also capable of killing larval and adult fleas in the host's local environment as well. Drug companies have, thus, formulated some of these insecticide compounds into forms (e.g flea bombs, flea powders, flea foggers, flea sprays) that can be applied liberally onto the environment for major environmental flea control. Some of these environmental products (e.g. powders, sprays) can even be applied to the pet's fur directly (i.e. the same product can be used on the pet and on the pet's environment).

Environmentally-targeted flea control products that kill flea larvae and adults include:

  • Flea bombs and flea foggers (tradenames include - Fido's Flea bomb Insecticidal Fogger, Zodiac Flea Proof Insecticidal Mist) - permethrin and methoprene-S products designed to distribute a fine fog of flea control insecticide across a room; coating all surfaces.
  • Flea powders (tradenames include - Exelpet Pyrethrin Flea Control Powder for Cats and Dogs, Fido's Fre-Itch CPP Flea Powder, Fido's Fre-Itch Flea Powder, Keydust, Skatta-7 Tick Flea Louse Powder) - carbaryl or pyrethrin based flea powders that are dusted onto environmental surfaces where adult and larval fleas like to hide out. Some of these products can be also used on the host animal/s, including poultry and birds, in addition to the host's environment and bedding (read labels carefully).
  • Flea rinses and sprays (tradenames include - Di-Flea Flea and Tick Rinse and Yard Spray, Exelpet Fleaban Yard and Kennel Concentrate, Malaban Wash Concentrate, Malatroy, Pyretroy, Quick-Kill Rinse Concentrate for Fleas, Ticks and Lice, Troy IGR) - pyrethrin or organophosphate based flea products designed to be administered as a fine spray or wash for coating flea-infested environmental surfaces and flea larvae hide-outs. Some of these products can be also used on the host animal/s, including poultry and birds, in addition to the host's environment and bedding (read labels carefully) and some are also useful for yard flea control (e.g. lawn flea control), where steam cleaning, vacuuming, flea bombs and other modes of flea control are less applicable. Products containing organophosphates may be cumulative in the environment, resulting in poison build up over time. Products containing permethrins are toxic to fish and waterways and should not be emptied into waterways, sewers or sinks or used in yards where groundwater contamination is likely.
Author's Note - These "environment-targetted" flea products, which kill flea larvae and newly-emerged adult fleasas a deliberate effect rather than an incidental effect, are better placed to be used in the management of major environmental flea burdens. These products are much more reliable as whole-environment flea control products (in conjunction with host-animal treatments) because they do not rely on the pet for distribution. If the pet does not spend timeeverywhere in the environment that the fleas are, then no matter - the insecticidal flea spray, flea bomb or flea fogger will. Flea bombs, flea foggers and environmental powders and sprays should, used correctly, leave few flea larvae and young adults alive in the environment to continue the flea life cycle.

Note - flea bombs and flea foggers are only able to provide good environmental flea controlif their limitations are understood. These products are designed to spray insecticide out linearly, 360-degrees from a central point (the bomb). This insecticide rises up into theair and then drifts down, settling upon surfaces. Flea bombs and foggers are, therefore, unable to penetrate around corners (fleas can live in the non-treated carpet protected behind a wall); unable to access the insides of closets and cabinets (they do not go through doors) and unable topenetrate underneath tables and couches (the falling mist of insecticide settles on the furniture and bench tops, but not underneath). Flea foggers and bombs need to be positioned so that all regions of a room are in direct line withthe spray (i.e. in 'direct sight' of the bomb) - there must be no walls, cabinets or other room dividersaround that could interfere with the spray reaching every inch and corner of the room/carpet. If furniture can becompletely moved out of a room while spraying is occurring, the better the insecticide cover of thecarpet will be. Areas of carpet under non-movable furniture or in areas unlikely to be reached by the bomb, should be hand-sprayed carefully after "bombing" to ensure that fleas can not hide-out in these 'protected regions'.Alternatively, owners can elect to hand spray or powder all sections of a room without the use of a fogger or bomb. This is time-consuming, but gives the best, most targeted environmental flea elimination treatment.

IMPORTANT NOTE - Many of the chemicals and medications used in these environmental flea control products are quite toxic to pets and people. They should be used strictly according to instructionsand you must read the labels very carefully (some of these poisons are lethal to cats, for example).It is advised that people and their pets clear out of the house for a few hours to days (depending on the product), whilst the flea treatment (e.g. flea bomb) is taking effect. Frequent, repeated use of environmental flea chemicals may result in an accumulation of flea poison within the home and is not advised - I recommend using them only occasionally, to get rid of major flea burdens, and following up with good, vigilant, safe (the BIG 5), host-animal flea prevention. People with significant environmental flea burdens should really seek the advice of a qualified pest company for more information on what to do to get rid of flea pests before using any of these products.

Don't underestimate the importance of good yard control. Emerged adult fleas can survive inlong grass (lawn fleas) and in tall vegetation and in dark places under houses. Mowing lawns and keeping vegetation sparse can help to ensure that any flea eggs,flea larvae and adult fleas that do arrive are subjected to the desiccating, heating effects of direct sunlight and drying breeze. Treating flea affected regions of yards with insecticides(powder, spray and granular forms are available for outdoor use) that kill fleas can help to remove flea parasites introduced by stray and feral animals, however, such treatment may also decimate spider, beetle and ant populations that could be doing your garden a lot of good.


6) Isolate the pet from flea infested environments:
Keeping untreated pets away from places where fleas are expected to occur (e.g. kennels, catteries, groomers, vet clinics,bushland, thick forest, wilderness and so on) and keeping them from interacting with untreated pets can help to prevent adult fleas from catching a ride aboard your pet. Preventing petsfrom accessing spaces under houses, woodpiles, thick garden beds and the like can also preventthe pet from becoming infested with fleas brought in by wild, stray and feral animals. If the animal does have to go into these areas or interact with potentiallyflea infested animals, then it should have a preventative flea treatment applied to prevent adult fleas from getting onto the fur.


7) Flea traps to lure and kill adult fleas in the environment:
Flea traps are devices, which use sound or light technology to lure adult fleas to them, so that they can not infest the host animals in the household. The fleasare attracted to the light or sound emitted by the trap, fall into the trap and dieupon exposure to one of a range of lethal substrates present inside of the trap (e.g. detergent, insecticide, glue).

Ultrasonic flea traps (sound emitting ones) are not thought to work all that well, but light-emitting traps can have a good effect provided that the right ones are used. Fleas like light and, like moths, will move towards light-emitting traps (esp. at night).Fleas are particularly attracted to light traps if the light emitted is green (510-550nm wavelength) and if it is intermittent (i.e. a blinking light that flicks on and off). The blinking light tricks the fleas into thinking that a host has just passed in front of the light and so they run towards it, looking for the host. Light traps that do notturn on and off (i.e. don't blink) will not usually provide good flea control.



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3) Your flea control links:

To go from this fleas life cycle page to the Pet Informed Home Page, click here.

To go from this flea life cycle page to the Flea Pictures page, click here.

For information on yard control, lawn and soil nematodes - NemaSeek and NemAttack:
http://www.arbico-organics.com/organic-pest-control-beneficial-nematodes-info.html

For information on borate-based carpet fleas control product - Fleabusters Rx for Fleas Plus Flea Powder:
http://www.fleabuster.com/Products/Rx_Plus/flea_powder.html



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References and Suggested Readings:

1) Arthropods. In Bowman DD, Lynn RC, Eberhard ML editors: Parasitology for Veterinarians, USA, 2003, Elsevier Science.

2) Phylum Arthropoda. In Hobbs RP, Thompson ARC, Lymbery AJ: Parasitology, Perth, 1999, Murdoch University.

3) External Infestations - Small Animals. In Wroth O, editor: MIMS IVS Annual. St Leonards, 2001, Havas MediMedia.

4) Miscellaneous. In Wroth O, editor: MIMS IVS Annual. St Leonards, 2001, Havas MediMedia.

5) Crapp B, Stickfast Fleas. Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries. http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/cps/rde/dpi/hs.xsl/27_2744_ENA_HTML.htm

6) Parasitic Skin Disease. In Muller GH, et al.: Muller and Kirk's Small Animal Dermatology, 6th ed. USA, 2001, Elsevier Health Sciences.

7) Material Safety Data Sheet for Interrupt Biological insecticide for Outdoor Flea Control - http://www2.itap.purdue.edu/MSDS/docs/11643.pdf

8) Fleabusters Rx for Fleas Plus Flea Powder - http://www.fleabuster.com/Products/Rx_Plus/flea_powder.html



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Pet Informed is not in any way affiliated with any of the companies whose productsappear in images or information contained within this article. Any images, taken by Pet Informed, are only used in order to illustrate certain points being made in the article. Pet Informed receives no commercial or reputational benefit from any of these companiesfor mentioning their products and can not make any guarantees or claims, either positive or negative, about these companies' products, customer service or business practices. Pet Informed can not and will not take any responsibility for any death, damage, illness, injury or loss of reputation and businessor for any environmental damage that occurs should you choose to use one of the mentioned products on your pets, poultry or livestock (commercial or otherwise) or indoors or outdoors environment. Do your homework and research all such flea products carefully before using any flea products on your animalsor their environments.

Also note that the presence or absence of products on this page should not be taken asa personal endorsement or non-endorsement of these included or omitted products. Productslisted on this page are there for informational purposes only - we are not paid by companies to represent their products. The omission of a productfrom this page is in no way reflective of Pet Informed's personal opinions of this product.Pet Informed is Australian - it is very likely that products marketed outside of Australiawill not be mentioned.

Copyright June 30, 2009, Dr. O'Meara, www.pet-informed-veterinary-advice-online.com.
All rights reserved, protected under Australian copyright. No images or graphics on this Pet Informed website may be used without written permission of their owner, Dr. O'Meara.



Revolution is a registered trademark of Pfizer Animal Health.
Frontline Spray, Frontline Top Spot Cat, Frontline Top Spot Dog and Frontline Plus are registered trademarks of Merial Australia Pty Ltd.
Advantage Duo, Advocate, Advantix and Advantage for Dogs and Cats are registered trademarks of Bayer Australia Ltd.
Capstar, Sentinel, Program, Zodiac Flea Proof Insecticidal Mist and Zodiac Flea Proof Spray for Catsand Dogs are registered trademarks of Novartis Animal Health Australasia Pty Ltd.
Decaflea is a registered trademark of Dermcare-Vet Pty Ltd.
Di-Flea Flea and Tick Rinse and Yard Spray is a registered trademark of Jurox Pty Ltd.
Duogard Band for Cats, Duogard Band for Dogs, Duogard Line On for Dogs and Protect-a-Dog Double Impact are registered trademarks of Virbac (Australia) Pty Ltd.
Exelpet Fleaban Yard and Kennel Concentrate and Exelpet Pyrethrin Flea Control Powder for Cats and Dogs are registered trademarks of Exelpet Products.
Fido's Fre-Itch CPP Flea Powder, Fido's Fre-Itch Flea Powder and Fido's Flea bomb Insecticidal Fogger are registered trademarks of Mavlab Pty Ltd.
Keydust is a registered trademark of International Animal Health Products Pty Ltd.
Malaban Wash Concentrate is a registered trademark of Inca (Flight) Company Pty Ltd.
Malatroy, Troy IGR and Pyretroy are registered trademarks of Troy Laboratories Pty Ltd.
Quick-Kill Rinse Concentrate for Fleas, Ticks and Lice and Quick-Kill Eclipse are registered trademarks of Pharmachem.
Skatta-7 Tick Flea Louse Powder is a registered trademark of David Veterinary Laboratories.
Interrupt Biological insecticide for Outdoor Flea Control is a registered trademark of Biosys.
NemaSeek and NemAttack are registered trademarks of Arbico-Organics.
Fleabusters and Rx for Fleas Plus Flea Powder are registered trademarks of Rx For Fleas.

Please note: the aforementioned flea prevention, flea control and flea treatmentguidelines and information on the flea life cycle are general information and recommendations only. The information provided is based on published information and on recommendations made available from the drug companies themselves; relevant veterinary literatureand publications and my own experience as a practicing veterinarian.The advice given is appropriate to the vast majority of pet owners, however, giventhe large range of flea medication types and flea prevention and control protocols now available, owners should take it upon themselves to ask their own veterinarian what treatment and flea prevention schedules s/he is using so asto be certain what to do. Owners with specific circumstances (high flea infestationburdens in their pet's environment, pregnant bitches and queens, very young puppies and kittens,flea infested ferrets, flea infested rabbits, dog, cat and rabbit breeders, livestock and poultryproducers, multiple-dog and cat environments, animals with severe flea allergy dermatitis, animals on immune-suppressant medicines, animals with immunosuppressant diseases or conditions, owners of sick anddebilitated animals etc. etc.) should ask their vet what the safest and most effective flea protocol is for their situation.

Please note: the scientific flea names mentioned in this fleas life cycle article are only current asof the date of this web-page's copyright date. Parasite scientific names are constantly beingreviewed and changed as new scientific information becomes available and names that are currentnow may alter in the future.