Fleas are ectoparasites and females require a blood meal to produce eggs. After feeding on a host, females can produce about 30-50 eggs per day that fall off the animal and into carpeting or other areas of the home or outside in areas where the animal frequents. Larvae feed on organic matter as well as partially digested blood excreted by the adult fleas (yes, I mean poop). After fleas pupate, they usually hatch out of the cocoon in about 2 weeks, but they can remain dormant for up to 5 months waiting for a host.
A proper flea management program has two parts- managing fleas on any pets and managing fleas in the environment. A veterinarian may be consulted about flea control for pets; there are numerous products on the market that work well. Grooming the animal with a flea comb or bathing the pet can help reduce flea numbers. When you find fleas on a pet, you most likely will need to treat the pet, inside the home and the yard. Treatment should be targeted to areas where the pet likes to hang out.
Fleas in and around homes that do not have pets may be coming from wildlife. The attic and crawl spaces should be inspected to see if wildlife has moved into the area, bringing fleas with them. Wildlife should be removed with traps and the area treated with an insecticide labeled for fleas. After wildlife is removed, the area should be sealed so that wildlife cannot move in again.
It is also possible for new homeowners with no pets to have fleas. This usually results from previous owners having pets. Fleas can remain dormant for several months, but become active again when they sense vibrations of new hosts.
Inside, vacuum regularly, getting under furniture and along baseboards to reduce flea eggs, larvae and pupae. Make sure to dispose of the vacuum bag in sealed bag in an outdoor garbage can at least once a week so the fleas do not hatch out and reinfest the home. Wash pet bedding in hot water. Bathe pets regularly and use a flea comb to remove fleas. Avoid walking pets in known flea infested areas.
Outside, target pesticide treatments to areas where pets frequent. Full sun areas do not need to be treated as fleas will not remain in those areas.
When treating for fleas, you need to treat at least two times. The second treatment should occur 10-14 days after the initial treatment.