Fleas are small, brown or almost black, wingless insects. They measure most often less than 5 mm in length (from 2 to 3 mm for the majority of the species, exceptionally until 9 mm). Their body is covered with a hard cuticle. It has spiny hairs directed towards the back, as well as short and robust spines. It is strongly compressed laterally, i.e. flattened on the side. The head is fused to a small thorax. The abdomen is more or less oval. The head has very short antennae, usually attached in grooves. According to the species, the eyes are present or not. The mouth parts are of the biting-sucking type. The long and powerful legs (especially the hind legs) are well adapted for jumping. Females are generally larger than males. The different species of fleas are very similar. Experts distinguish them by criteria such as the shape of their heads and the distribution of their bristles (hair) and spines.
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What is the flea’s life cycle?
Fleas are insects with complete metamorphosis or holometabolous. Mating takes place on the animal that acts as a host. To ensure her offspring, the female must feed on blood before mating. It usually lays eggs in the fur of the parasitized animal, but the eggs, not adhesive, fall on the ground. The female lays a few eggs at a time, up to a total of several dozen (sometimes up to 2000). The egg is usually white, ovoid in shape, and about 0.3 to 0.5 mm long. It hatches after a few days. Depending on the temperature, incubation can take months.
The larva that emerges from the egg is elongated and cylindrical, white and legless. Its segmented body can carry long hairs. Its light brown head is equipped with mouth parts of a type crusher. It has no eyes. At the end of the abdomen are two small hooks used for locomotion. Normally, the larva is not found on the host; it lives in dust and detritus. The larval stage of the flea has two moults and lasts from one to five weeks, sometimes more.
Avant de se transformer en nymphe, la larve se place en « U » et fabrique un cocon de soie. Les fibres de ce cocon sont collantes et l’abri se couvre rapidement de débris et de poussière, ce qui assure à l’insecte une protection supplémentaire. La puce adulte émerge au bout de cinq jours à cinq semaines environ. Elle peut aussi passer l’hiver au stade nymphal.
The adult ready to come out sometimes stays in its cocoon for a long time. Its emergence would be caused by the carbon dioxide and heat produced by its host. Once out of its cocoon, the adult flea immediately starts looking for a host to find food and a partner to mate with.
Depending on the species, the time between the laying of the egg and the emergence of the reproductive adult varies between two and three weeks, two and three months, and even up to two years. The life span of the adult varies according to the species; it is from 7 to 14 days in the cat flea, for example.
Like most large animal parasites, fleas remain active and continue to reproduce during the winter. In species whose hosts live in the wild, all stages of the life cycle can be slowed by low temperatures.
Where do fleas live in the house?
Adult fleas live on or near their host. They are ectoparasites (external parasites) of vertebrates. The larvae are found in the host’s nest or burrow, as well as in human dwellings (on carpets or in cracks in wood floors, for example).
What is flea food?
Adult fleas are hematophagous, meaning they feed on blood. However, they can survive for several weeks without a blood meal. Several species can suck the blood of various animals, while others feed on a single animal species. Depending on the species, the larvae feed on different organic matter: dried blood excreted by adult fleas, excrement from other animals, dust, hair, dead skin and other detritus.
What are the flea exterminator methods?
Fleas are very well adapted to the living conditions we have created in our homes. Infestations can therefore occur throughout the year. However, they are more frequent and severe in late summer and early fall. It is therefore recommended that pets be examined regularly during this period.
How to be preventive and avoid fleas?
Various products protect pets from flea infestations. This protection is particularly useful for animals that often leave the house during the period from June to October. Consult your veterinarian about the injections and tablets available for this purpose. The flea collar is also effective, but it is recommended that it be used sparingly and intermittently. It can cause reactions in animals, including skin irritation, nervous disorders and dilation of the pupil of the eye.
How to detect fleas?
Un chien ou un chat qui se met à se lécher davantage, à se gratter, se mordiller ou se mordre manifeste des signes d’infestation. Les puces se trouvent souvent dans la région du cou ou de la queue de leur hôte. Elles sont assez faciles à voir entre les poils, surtout aux endroits où la fourrure est courte et peu dense, comme sur l’abdomen, la tête et les oreilles. La présence de petites particules noires en forme de boudins, de virgules ou de petits grains de la taille d’une tête d’épingle est aussi un signe de l’activité des puces. Ces petits amas de sang séché (voir plus haut : Comportements particuliers) prennent une teinte rougeâtre lorsqu’ils sont mouillés. Il suffit de passer un tampon de ouate humecté de détergent sur la peau de l’animal pour détecter leur présence. On trouve souvent ces déchets sur le coussin ou le fauteuil où l’animal dort. Là se trouvent également les petits œufs blancs des puces, que l’on peut voir à l’œil nu puisqu’ils ont la taille d’un grain de sel.
Another way to find out if there are fleas in a room is to walk around for at least five minutes wearing long white socks on your feet (no shoes). Adult insects looking for a host will jump on their feet and it will be easy to distinguish them on the stockings because of their dark colour.
How to eliminate fleas on pets or humans?
Various commercial preparations are available on the market to treat pets. There are flea-control products in the form of powders, shampoos, foams, sprays, lotions, collars, etc. One of the most common approaches today is to give the animal a product that works for a month and repeat the treatment as needed. Consult a veterinarian or an exterminator to help you make the right choice. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, proceed with caution and remember that most chemical insecticides can be harmful to you and the environment.
Certains auteurs (voir en particulier Odile Michaud, dans la Bibliographie) préconisent des méthodes naturelles pour se débarrasser des puces. Ils recommandent par exemple l’utilisation d’un peigne à épucer et de solutions ou de poudres à base de romarin et de tanaisie. L’huile de pouliot, l’huile de thym et l’huile d’eucalyptus seraient également efficaces. Un mélange à parts égales d’alcool et de vinaigre utilisé en friction sur la fourrure agirait comme répulsif.
How to eliminate flea eggs and larvae?
It is not easy to get rid of all the fleas in a house, especially the immature ones, because they are very small and often stay hidden in hard-to-reach places. For this reason, the use of insecticides is not recommended in homes (unless one of the inhabitants is allergic to fleas). In addition, the use of preventive products or treatments in animals can eliminate adults as they emerge or prevent them from reproducing. However, many of the intruders can be removed by thoroughly cleaning the areas where the infested animals live and sleep.
The first step is to vacuum every room in the house.
Il est recommandé de répéter l’opération au moins une fois par semaine, afin d’éliminer les œufs, les larves et les jeunes adultes. On portera une attention particulière aux recoins où les puces pourraient se cacher, par exemple le long des plinthes et dans les fentes des planchers de bois. Les puces adultes et les larves ont tendance à chercher les coins sombres, comme derrière et sous les meubles. Il faut donc déplacer ces derniers pour nettoyer à fond. Éliminez les insectes qui se retrouvent dans l’aspirateur en jetant le sac après chaque usage. Lavez les planchers.
Also, wash the family’s equipment and bedding that pets sleep on with hot soapy water every two to three weeks.
Particular attention should be paid to the carpet, which is a prime habitat for fleas. It has a higher moisture content than room air, contains organic debris that larvae feed on, and its fibres offer fleas protection from the action of vacuuming and insecticides. It may therefore be useful to have it cleaned with steam, which is fatal for fleas in all their life stages (warn the cleaning staff of the presence of fleas).
Outside the house, cover the children’s sandbox when they are not playing to prevent fleas from being left behind by infected animals. Dog houses can also be infested, as well as parts of the yard where moisture and lack of direct sunlight encourage insect development. To check for chips in a particular area, place a sheet of white paper on it. You will easily distinguish the insects if they jump on the clear surface. If you choose a chemical insecticide, ask a specialist to choose the least toxic product best suited to your situation. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, proceed with caution and remember that most chemical insecticides can be harmful to you and the environment.
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|Length||2.5mm to 5mm|
|Color||brown to black|
|Life||a few weeks after the adult stage|