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The Everything Guide to Fleas & Your Pet - Part Two (Know the Enemy)

Cats Dog Skin
An Everything Guide to Fleas wouldn’t be complete without an understanding of how flea populations grow and can become a problem for all of us. It’s not just dogs and cats that are susceptible. Homes can become infested and people can end up with bites, irritations, and even diseases and infections. We’re all caught up on flea-borne illnesses to which cats, dogs, AND humans can succumb to if bitten by a flea. Now let’s get to know the enemy and how we can fight them.
Guide to fleas

Let’s get to know the enemy and how we can fight them.

Flea Season

There are over 200 flea species in the United States, alone. Yikes! That means there are fleas who can adapt to, and survive, light winters and intermittent snow storms. Only the most northern states see a significant decline in flea populations and can limit their preventative measure to Spring, Summer, and Fall. The rest of us can really only depend on infestation avoidance with year-round preventative measures.

The Flea Life-Cycle

In this guide to fleas, we are best prepared when we know how fleas reproduce and grow. That knowledge means we'll have an understanding of how we can combat them. Here’s a brief run-down of the flea life-cycle. Fleas have a four-stage lifecycle that can last for a week or six months, depending on the species and their region.

Stage One: Eggs

Ewe. Fleas have eggs and they leave them everywhere. They aren’t just on our fur-babies. They fall into the carpet, upholstery, and anywhere there’s fabric, such as our clothes and bedding. While cats and canines get the bad rap of bringing them into the house, the fact is that humans can also bring them in on our clothes. All it takes is a close encounter with a cat, canine, or guardian that has an infestation.
Guide to fleas

Fleas have eggs and they leave them everywhere.

Stage Two: Larvae

Gross. At this stage, they look like little white worms, but because they’re only about six millimeters long, they aren’t very visible. At this point, they feed on organic materials they find in their surroundings. That means cat feces and decaying vegetable and plant matter, like houseplants.

Stage Two: Pupae

Yuck. This is the stage that makes it difficult to rid a household of a flea infestation. Even though flea season is when fleas are active and biting, the pupae stage is a dormant stage when the flea is in a cocoon. Depending upon conditions, this stage can last a week or over a year!

Stage Four: Adult Fleas

Uhg. This is when those little biters do the most damage. They live in our home, on our pets, and lay more eggs. And they spread diseases, viruses, and bacteria. Even when they aren’t spreading illness, they are causing discomfort and irritation for all of us, fur-babies and humans, alike.
Guide to fleas

Fleas spread diseases, viruses, and bacteria.

What Do Fleas Eat?

Once fleas become adults, they feed on blood. A guide to fleas isn't complete with also knowing it doesn’t just need to be animal blood. The most notable fact about these little vampires? They can last a year on just one meal. That doesn’t mean that one bite will stop them from feeding as often as possible. It just means they can live quite a while in a vacant apartment that may have been the home to a flea infestation.

What Do They Look Like?

Chances are, most of us have seen a flea at one point or another, but there are a points that are worth mentioning. They are usually only about 0.3 centimeters long, so they can be easy to miss. They are also dark brown, or reddish, so they easily blend into our pet’s hair. Fleas don’t have wings, but they have strong legs and can jump surprisingly far. On top of all of this, fleas are resilient to physical harm because of their flat body shape and tiny size.
Guide to Fleas

Fleas are resilient, can live long periods without food.

The Guide to Fleas Recap?

Guide to Fleas Fleas are resilient, can live long periods without food, and are basically a lurking, year-round problem, even when it isn’t biting season. They live in materials around our home, not just our pets, and can be brought in by pets, humans, neighbors, and anyone or anything else that has contact with an infected place, not just an infected cat or canine. Luckily, there’s a lot we can do to get rid of fleas, and even more we do to prevent future infestations. Our tried and true formula, EcoBug takes care of the bug trifecta - ticks, mosquitos, and fleas. With regular use, this pet- and people-safe repellent keeps ourselves, our families, our homes, and our pets, pest-free. EcoBug keeps ourselves, our families, our homes, and our pets, pest-free

Michelle Lievense

Michelle is a writer and ghostwriter, specializing in wellness, sustainability, and global social change. She is particularly fond of serving ethical organizations who contribute to a better life for people and animals through humane and environmentally responsible missions. At Vet Organics, Michelle uses her time as a vet tech, her academic studies in animal science and behavior, and nearly a decade working on a ranch teaching animal husbandry to write on a variety of cat and canine health topics. When she isn't writing, Michelle can be found hiking in the mountains of Colorado with her dogs or snuggled up with a good book and her cats.

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