Understanding Fleas:

As you know, fleas live on assorted animals and bite them to drink blood, which is their food. Flea saliva has elements that softens the skin of a host via digestion so they can more easily penetrate the skin. This is why flea bites itch and why some pets have severe flea allergies. The flea life stage includes egg, larva, pupa and the adult. They usually live for two weeks, but under some conditions can live several months. The adult female can lay up to 15-20 eggs per day sometimes a lifetime total of 600. Flea eggs are not sticky, so will fall off your pet onto carpet, bedding, floorboards, cracks and crevices in your home or in your yard.

The entire life cycle takes about 2 weeks but sometimes can go up to 8 months. A flea population is usually made up of 50% eggs, 30% larva, 15% pupae and only 5% of biting adults. This means that you need to take steps when you see fleas and not wait until the problem is out of control. If conditions “aren’t right” for a flea to emerge from their pupae stage (a tiny protective cocoon) they may remain in the protected cocoon until they detect vibration (a pet or human walking nearby), pressure (a pet laying on them), heat (body heat or weather), noise or carbon dioxide (from mammals). An adult flea cannot live without a blood meal, but can “hibernate” from 2 months to up to a year without feeding.

You may have had the experience of leaving on vacation and returning with an outbreak of fleas. While you were gone, and there were no pets or humans in the house for the fleas to feed on, they hibernated or remained in the cocoon until your return. When they sense food is near, you get attacked by a starving flea population. In just 30 days, 10 female fleas could multiply to over a quarter million different life stages. For each flea you see on your pet, there are 30 more in your environment. How frightening is that?

Read about safer alternatives

Read about toxic flea and tick products

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  • http://UK Charlotte Seaney<span class="comment-author-location"> from London, London, United Kingdom</span>

    Hi my name is Charlotte. I have a cat called Marley he is 1 years old. I think he has a flea allergy and i really need some help. At the moment i am using Stronghold which the vet said it is the best around. Mrley is always treated on time never late but he is still scratching himself till he bleeds. The vet gives him a steriod injection to stop the itching but i hate him having to have these as i know they will only cause him problems when his older. I am saving up for him to have a blood test next year which is going to cost me £200 plus. I really could do with some help Marley is my baby, i just want to do whats best for him

    • http://tinytimmy.org Tiny Timmy<span class="comment-author-location"> from Portland, OR, United States</span>

      Hi Charlotte! I am sorry to hear that Marley has such bad flea allergies. Out of curiosity, does he scratch more after the Stronghold than just before? I have a page posting alternatives. You can find it here http://tinytimmy.org/fleas/alternatives/

      I’d suggest trying some of these solutions and feel free to ask me any questions after you’ve read the alternatives. For Marley’s skin you might want to try our Tiny Timmy’s Sudz. There’s a link on the alternatives page, or you can also look at our store. If that’s not up your alley, then see if you can’t find some all-natural handmade soap that has coconut oil, shea butter and oliver oil in it. Stay away from things that contain scents or essences as cats especially are very sensitive to essences (that’s why it was so hard to formulate our soaps). We have a cat who has such bad flea allergies that if he gets one bite, his entire body breaks out in bumps. We use the Timmy Sudz on him and he loves it. He is like a new cat. It was designed with cats like him in mind – those with severe allergies where the skin is often already irritated or raw.

      You will likely need a multiple mode of attack, treating your yard/garden area as well as inside your home. The alternatives page covers those as well as different options for Marley. At the bottom you will also find those chemical interventions that are, in my opinion, safer than others. If you want me to look up what these are marketed as in the UK I’d be more than happy to do that for you.

      What is the blood test looking for?

      One more thought. Our cat’s allergies got way better from just changing his food to no-grain. What kind of food is Marley on right now?

  • Maureen Elkins

    Do I  use Diatonaceious earth ONLY when there is an outbreak of fleas or do I apply it how often to prevent flea investation?   I am confused about this.   I need Exact application directions…I know a little is applied but how often?