The cat flea is the most common flea found on cats and dogs in Georgia. Most of us are well aware of the flea and the itch produced by its bite.

Fleas have an egg, larval, pupal, and adult stage. The goals of flea management programs are to rid the pet and premises of fleas and to prevent future infestations.

Nonchemical Control

Vacuuming areas used by pets will provide many benefits to those plagued by fleas. Vacuuming these areas can remove about 60 percent of the flea eggs and 27 percent of the larvae. The worm-like larvae wrap around carpet fibers to prevent being removed by the vacuum. Vacuuming also removes organic matter and fecal blood the larvae need for food in order to mature. It is important to dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag immediately after use in an outside garbage can.

Steps for a Chemical Flea Control Program

The following measures should be performed on the same day to maximize flea control success:

♦ Treat the pets

♦ Vacuum areas visited by the pets

♦ Exclude other hosts and modify the environment

♦ Treat indoors

♦ Treat outdoors

Treat the Pet

Adult fleas spend most of their lives on the animal, not in the carpet. Untreated pets will continue to be bothered by fleas.

The new emphasis on pet treatments is to use “long-lasting” IGR’s or adulticides that can be fed or applied to the pet.

IGR’s are a preventive care because they will not kill the adult flea. Lufenuron, an IGR that is circulated through the pet’s blood is given in a monthly flavored tablet/feed additive.

Methoprene, another IGR, can be applied topically to a pet is usually formulated with an adulticide.

Products containing adulticides, such as imidacloprid, fipronil, or selamectin are available from veterinarians to kill adult fleas on pets. These are applied to the pet between the shoulder blades as a spot-on.

Vacuum flea-infested areas of the home to:

♦ remove eggs and larvae

♦ remove fecal blood and organic matter that serves as larval food

♦ straighten carpet fibers to allow pesticides to penetrate to the carpet base where larvae are found

Exclude other hosts and modify the environment

Treat indoors, if necessary.

People and pets should not contact treated surfaces until the spray has dried.

Thoroughly treat all areas likely for flea development, such as carpets, throw rugs, under and behind beds and furniture, and beneath cushions on which the pet sleeps.

Treat outdoors

Most flea problems in Georgia can be eliminated by treating the pet and interior of the home. In cases where the pet spends a majority of its time outdoors, it may also be necessary to treat outdoors.

Outdoor flea treatments should focus on areas the pet rests, sleeps, and runs such as doghouse and kennel areas, under decks, and next to the foundation. It is seldom necessary to treat the entire yard or open areas exposed to full sun because flea eggs and larvae will dry out and die when exposed to sunlight.

Fleas should be successfully controlled using the techniques described previously. Homeowners who lack the time to control fleas themselves or who are uncomfortable applying insecticides may wish to enlist the services of a professional pest firm.

Information for this article was provided from an article written by Dr. Karen M. Vail, Associate Professor of Entomology, University of Tennessee