These pests of humans, dogs, cats, and many other warm-blooded animals are found throughout the world. In addition to causing annoying bites, they can transmit several serious diseases such as bubonic plague, murine typhus, and tapeworms. The cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis), the dog flea (C. canis), and the human flea (Pulex irritans) are the most common species found around the home. These fleas have a wide host range, attacking humans, dogs, cats, and several other animals. The female fleas lay eggs shortly after feeding upon animal blood. The eggs are usually laid on the host''s body or in the host''s bedding. The eggs often fall off the host''s body into floor crevices, dog and cat boxes, carpets, and other areas where the infested animals spend time. Within 10 days, the eggs hatch into tiny, wormlike larvae that feed on dried blood and excrement. Pupation occurs after 1 week to several months. The adult fleas may emerge after only 1 week if conditions are favorable, or emergence may be delayed up to 1 year. The adults often remain in their pupal cocoons until a host is present. A flea''s life cycle may vary from 2 weeks up to 2 years. Because fleas have the ability to survive for many months in their cocoons, they can remain in vacated residences for long periods of time, waiting to emerge and bite returning pets and humans. Fleas are mainly spread by infested animals. Uninfested animals can easily pick up fleas when visiting flea-ridden areas. Infested articles of clothing or furniture may also spread fleas.
Treat infested pets by spraying, dusting, or shampooing them with a product made for killing fleas. Destroy infested pet bedding, or wash it in hot, soapy water. Vacuum carpeting, chairs, sofas, and other areas or objects that may contain eggs and larvae-ridden lint or debris, and then dispose of the vacuum bag. To prevent reinfestation, do not allow infested animals to enter the house and yard, and keep pets away from infested areas. Flea collars help prevent fleas from multiplying.