The Flea Life Cycle

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The Flea Life Cycle

Fleas are common in our area, especially this time of year. It's important to understand their life cycle if you're trying to prevent them, and especially if you find yourself trying to treat them. The common flea, Ctenocephalides felis, is actually a cat flea, but it is this flea that we find on our cats and dogs. The flea is an obligate parasite which means once she has found a host (someone she will feed from) she will not leave. And once she eats, she'll immediately begin laying eggs.

The adult female flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, and over 2,000 fleas in her lifetime! The eggs fall off of the pet & onto the carpet, the pet's bedding, and anywhere else the pet spends time. These eggs make up about 50% of the flea population (the adult fleas make up about 5% of the population). The other 2 stages, the larvae & pupae, make up the remaining 45%.

In 1-10 days the eggs hatch as larvae. The larval phase, representing 35% of the population, lasts for 5-12 days.

Eventually the larvae produce a silky cocoon in which they pupate. This pupal state is extremely tough making it almost indestructible. The adult flea within the pupal shell can remain here for up to 12 months though it usually hatches out in 2-4 weeks. Environmental stimuli like heat, vibration and carbon dioxide (emitted from pets and/or humans) tell the flea when it's time to hatch. Once the flea hatches from this pupa, it jumps onto a warm blooded mammal & feeds, allowing it to start the life cycle all over again.

If you're trying to treat for fleas it is important to treat ALL pets in the household - not just the dogs. Remember, when the eggs that have been dropped off into the environment hatch, the young fleas will jump on any of your pets - even the cats, not just the dogs. It's also important to treat consistently with a product that will kill the adult fleas for a minimum of 3 months as this is how long it will take to work thru the flea life cycle. And, don't forget about treating the environment. Wash bedding, vacuum floors, etc. to rid the environment of as many eggs as possible otherwise they will ultimately hatch out into adults and quite possibly lay more eggs!

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