Flea Treatments

If you think you have a problem with Fleas
call Redback Pest Control Sydney now on 1800 733 222 for expert advice

There are approximately 70-80 species of fleas in Australia (Order Syphonaptera), the most common being the cat flea and the dog flea. They are 1-6mm in length and black or brown in colour. The cat flea is far the more common species, with this parasite being found upon both dogs & cats. People often refer to “grass fleas “or “sand fleas.” It is incorrect to assume that these fleas just live in the grass or sand. They are usually cat fleas that their pet has deposited on the ground. All fleas are blood-sucking parasites and they need a living host in order to survive. Fleas are wingless insects with a laterally flattened body, hairy with hooks on their legs to move easily through and to grip onto the fur of their hosts. They have very powerful hind legs that have a rubber-like resilin in their joints. When they compress these legs and release them, they are catapulted into the air, by as much as 20cms up & 35cm horizontally-150 times their own length! That is comparable to a person jumping onto Ayres Rock.
A female flea can lay up to 25 eggs in a day and over 800 in a lifetime. The eggs hatch between 5 & 14 days becoming larvae. These are blind & leg-less and feed upon organic matter such as dried blood from the host. After 2 to 3 weeks the larvae are fully grown, spin a silk cocoon and become pupae. When a stimulus in the form of vibration or heat is sensed, the pupa emerges as an adult. This can take from 2 or 3 weeks normally, or over a year to happen. This explains why people returning from holidays & entering their houses are attacked by large numbers of fleas. An adult flea can survive for over 4 months without a blood feed.

Fleas are controlled by firstly ensuring that the host animal is regularly bathed in a residual flea shampoo or rinse such as “Saint Bernard Flea Shampoo or “Permoxin.” These shampoos contain the insecticide Permethrin, which is a synthetic pyrethroid. There are other Organo-phosphate based shampoos and rinses such as “Gamma-wash” & “Mala-wash”(Diazinon & Maldison as active ingredient). These are residual insecticides, though they are smelly, a lot more toxic and fleas are becoming chemical resistant to them. Regular bathings in Summer are every 2 weeks to 1 month and less often in winter.

When bathing is not a regular occurrence or the animal is introduced to an environment where there is a current flea infestation, flea breeding can result. When fleas are laying eggs in the fur of the host, some fall off onto the ground or where the pets usually reside, carpet and bedding etc. To gain effective control of fleas, the following preparations should be made:

  1. All children & pets should be removed from the areas to be sprayed
  2. All loose items should be taken away from the floor and ground areas
  3. The lawns are to be mowed and dry areas to be hosed if it is a hot day. (This is to float the flea eggs to the surface and to help keep the insecticide from evaporating too quickly)
  4. A thorough vacuuming of the carpet just prior to treatment, paying attention to skirting board areas and underneath furniture & lounge cushions.(This where rubbed off skin and larva live). Vacuum bags to be sprayed with fly spray or discarded
  6. Pets and people to be kept away as much as possible from infested areas. This will have to be for at least 1 month in some cases. (It is a condition of warranty that this is carried out. Yes, it matters that much!)
  7. Bedding of pets to be thoroughly washed or discarded
  8. In severe infestations an Insect Growth Regulator (I.G.R.) may be used in tablet form which is added to the pet’s food. (This can be obtained on prescription from vets – trade name “Programme”). Another method of control by using tablets is a systemic method of control-trade name “Pro-ban.”
  9. Finally, the pet should be washed as soon as possible after the treatment with a residual flea rinse or shampoo such as “St. Bernard Flea Shampoo,” or in the case of cats, a residual flea powder. This should continue on a regular basis, preferably every two weeks in the warmer months to a monthly wash or powder in the cooler seasons

Using these simple pre-cautions will ensure that freedom from flea infestation will become a fact. Success definitely won’t happen overnight, although very pleasing results will occur approximately one month after treatment if these practices, as outlined above, are carried out.

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