The Flea Cycle, and How it Can Affect Your Dog

Fleas are the most common parasite to affect canines. There are over 2,000 species of flea worldwide, and most of these love to live on your dog! Approximately 95% of fleas host on mammals, with the remaining 5% living on birds. Flea thrive in warm, moist environments and climates, making April – September in the UK prime time for flea infestations.

The life cycle of fleas is surprisingly complex and variable, which is why fleas are such difficult parasites to manage. Understanding the various stages of this life cycle, however, can make it easier to control them, and hopefully eradicate them from your home entirely.

The Life Cycle of a Flea

There are four stages of the flea life cycle – egg, larva, pupa and adult. This life cycle can last anywhere from two weeks to two years, depending on the environmental conditions. At any time, 50% of the flea population are alive in egg form, with only 5% of the flea population existing as adults.

  • The Egg Stage. Unlike many insects and parasites, flea eggs are non-sticky. Instead of remaining in the animal’s hair, they typically fall onto the floor, remaining in carpets, floorboards or bedding for around two weeks. Flea eggs need approximately 70% humidity and a temperature of at least 21°C to hatch.
  • The Larva Stage. Flea eggs hatch into larva, which live for about five to 20 days. During this time, they feed off organic debris on the floor. Flea larva are thought to dislike light, so are often found deep within carpet piles. They typically accumulate in areas where pets lie/sleep regularly. Once conditions are at their optimum, the flea larva spins itself a cocoon, not unlike moths or butterflies.
  • The Pupa Stage. Throughout the pupa stage, the larva develops into an adult flea. The adult flea will emerge when conditions are perfect, e.g. when temperatures are warm and there is a high level of humidity. This can take anywhere between three days and one year.
  • The Adult Stage. The adult flea can live for several months, with female fleas laying around 500 eggs in the time. Fleas prefer to live on animal hosts, as they need to eat before the can lay their eggs.

Treating Fleas Effectively

When dealing with a flea infestation, it is key that you treat the whole flea cycle, focusing on both your pet and the environment it lives in. Combined action is needed. Firstly, you should kill all the fleas alive on your dog with flea spray, shampoo or powder. Then apply a flea treatment product such as Frontline to inhibit the development of any remaining fleas, or new eggs and larva. It is then important to thoroughly clean your home. Vacuum floors and wash anything your dog has slept on to kill all eggs, larva or pupa on the floor. You might also like to use an insecticide spray about the house.

Moving forward, you should ensure you vacuum your home regularly, as vacuuming collects up to 95% of fleas. It might also be wise to bathe your dog regularly in Groomers Ridasect, which repels fleas and ticks. If you apply all these measures rigorously, your home will be free from fleas in time.

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