Getting Rid of Fleas
Itchy. Scratchy. Everyone knows fleas are irritating, but as well as being a nuisance to you, your family and your pets, they can cause serious health problems. On this page you’ll find information about different types of flea, and how you can deal with them.
What Types of Flea can Bite Humans?
There is actually a human flea (Pulex irritans) which can live on the human body, but it’s extremely rare in the UK and can live on many animals, despite the name. Infestations do occur, but more often than not they’re imported from abroad.
Cat and dog fleas (Ctenocephalides felis/canis) are much more likely to be a problem, and will bite humans if their usual food source isn’t around. They don’t stay on our bodies, but live on our pets and in bedding and carpets.
Other types of flea in the UK include pigeon fleas (Ceratophyllus columbae) which can become a problem if you have pigeons nesting in the house.
As with many insect pests, fleas are more common in warm summer weather, but can now breed all year round thanks to modern central heating.
What is a Flea Bite Like?
Fleas eat blood, and bite in order to get it. The bite itself isn’t very painful, but most people have a reaction that makes the skin itchy and red. In some people this may develop into a serious allergy or painful wheals and blisters. Fleas are also known to carry diseases, and there is a condition known as pulicosis which is caused by flea bites. In serious cases it can cause permanent nerve damage.
Flea bites are most common on the lower legs and feet as they usually infest carpets and fabrics, but you can also get them on the hands and arms if you pick up your pets or their bedding. Young children may be bitten if they’re playing on the floor.
How can I Recognise a Flea?
Under the microscope, fleas are very distinctive insects with a flattened body (allowing them to move easily over hairy skin) and long legs for jumping. They are tiny (around 2mm long) and reddish brown in colour. They are so fast moving they can be hard to see, but the presence of bites is an indicator, and you can inspect the fur of your pets to see if they’re there.
You can also look for flea eggs on soft furnishings like pet beds and sofas. The eggs are white and really tiny (about 0.5mm).
How can I Prevent an Infestation?
For most people, fleas are only likely to be a problem if you have pets, so it’s important to regularly treat them for fleas and other parasites. Check the loft or ledges outside your house for pigeon nests, as these can harbour fleas and other insects, and contact our pest controllers immediately if you have rats or any other pest which might have fleas.
Flea Pest Control
If you have a flea problem in the house (or in an outside space like a shed or garage) give us a call and we’ll come and help. Fleas develop from egg to larvae to adult, so it’s important to have at least two treatments to make sure they’re all gone. Insecticides don’t affect the eggs, but will kill the adult fleas and their larvae. We usually make these treatments two weeks apart so any fleas hatching after the first treatment are destroyed.