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?
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