Fleas are a common problem in homes especially for those with cats or dogs. They are also frequently found when moving into a home that previously had pets.
While fleas can transmit disease, in this country it is very rare. Instead, the primary concern is the distress that flea bites cause to people and pets.
There are many species of flea, but most are 2-3mm long and red or brown in colour.
Adult fleas pierce the skin of mammals or birds to feed on blood. However, flea larvae feed on organic matter in carpets or bedding and so high levels of hygiene can slow the life-cycle.
Flea cocoons can remain dormant for two years or more and are awoken by the vibration of footsteps. It is very common for a flea infestation to remain dormant in an empty home but to awaken when people move in.
Flea bites are marked by a tiny dark spot surrounded by a reddened area, but the swelling is less pronounced than with other insect bites. A single flea will often bite two or three times in the same area in search of blood.
The flea bite is usually felt immediately, but it does not particularly hurt. It is the itchiness that results from the body’s reaction that causes discomfort. Please refer to our section on treating insect bites for further advice.
Infants are at higher risk from being bitten by fleas particularly when playing on the floor. They also tend to be more sensitive than adults to flea bites.
After several flea bites, some people develop an allergic sensitivity to the being bitten leading to an itchy rash or eczema. Consult a pharmacist for advice and treatment.
While fleas cause humans distress, pets are often much more affected by flea bites.
Even with the best care, it is difficult to protect fully against the risk of your dog or cat catching fleas.
When your pet has fleas, it is likely that it will scratch more often or try to bite the fleas in its fur. A flea comb and frequent grooming may be sufficient to prevent fleas establishing themselves, but your vet or pet shop will offer treatments to protect your pet from fleas.
Consult your vet if there are signs of irritation such as reddening of the skin or if there are thin patches in the coat of your pet.
If you have pets, it is essential to prevent fleas becoming established in carpets and bedding:
Minor flea infestations can be treated by spraying the affected areas with insect killer or flea killer sprays.
Established flea infestations will have spread around the home and may require professional treatment.
Rentokil offers a call-out service to treat fleas and other pest problems in the home. Our service is fast, effective and offers the highest level of safety for your family and pets.
Call Rentokil Pest Control Ireland on 1890 666 444 for further advice on how to get rid of fleas or to arrange a visit by a technician.