Fleas

Fleas are considered as a medically important insect pest species as they are vectors of disease in many parts of the world such as the Black Death, bubonic plague pandemic that struck Europe during the late Middle Ages. These were caused by bacteria spread by rat fleas. Around two-thirds of the European population were killed during these pandemics.

These insects are small, wingless and laterally flattened insects. They have six legs; the hind legs are long and powerful and are used for jumping, which allows them to jump up to 100 times their height. Majority of flea species feed on the blood of mammals (including humans) while the minority of them feed on birds’ blood. Both male and female adult fleas take blood meals, and they rely on blood for nutrition. Fleas are able to survive for more than 3 months without feeding. They tend to avoid light, and they are frequently found sheltering in hair, under clothing and in beds. After feeding, they will excrete faeces composed of semi-digested blood of their previous meal.

Common Fleas in Singapore

CAT FLEA (Ctenocephalides felis)

Around 3mm in length with flattened sides and long legs, cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are selective with their choice of host. This is because they are unable to determine the suitability of the host until it has bitten them. If the host is unsuitable, the flea drops off and finds another host. These fleas will nest in the usual resting place of a host, meaning they can be found in cat baskets or even cat towers. Cat fleas are not exclusive to cats and can be found on dogs, and occasionally feed on human blood.

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DOG FLEA (Ctenocephalides canis)

Similarly to cat fleas, dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis) are not exclusive to dogs, but can be found on cats and humans. Dog fleas are brownish black in colour but appear reddish-black after a blood meal, and measure 1 to 4mm in length so super difficult to see, that’s why we recommend calling us for an inspection if you suspect any infestation. Their laterally flattened body allows for ease of movement through an animal’s fur. Dog fleas’ spines also project backwards, which helps them in holding on to a host during grooming.

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HUMAN FLEA (Pulex irritans)

Wingless and a black to brownish-black colour, human fleas (Pulex irritans) measure about 1 to 4mm in length. With long, fine proboscis, they can pierce the skin of their host blood feeding. You’ll often find these fleas biting people around the ankles and legs with 2 to 3 bites in a row. Moving from one host to another, they do present a risk of transmitting diseases to humans. Their bites can be felt almost immediately and the area can feel sore for around a week. Human fleas can be found on dogs and rats.

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Diseases and Health Risks Associated with Fleas

Common diseases and risks associated with flea bites are:

Murine Typhus

If you experience symptoms of fever, headache, stomach pain, nausea or vomitting, you may want to check if you have been infected with murine typhus. It is caused by a bacterium known as Rickettsia typhii and transmitted when the site of the flea bite of a human is exposed to the flea’s faeces or inhaling the bacterium from a contaminated environment. Once infected, a person can experience severe illness or damage to their organs which includes the lungs, liver, kidney, heart and brain. Although commonly transmitted by rats, murine typhus can also be transmitted by cat fleas.

Plague

Caused by a bacterium known as Yersinia pestis, the transmission of a plague disease is similar to murine typhus wherein it happens through the bite of an infected flea or by inhalation. A plague can be avoided today and treated with antibiotics before it gets out of hand, but it is still advisable to prevent it with proper pest control like us in Singapore.

Solutions and Treatments for Fleas Infestation

Chemical treatment methods for fleas consisted of residual spraying and misting. Residual spraying involves the application of residual insecticide on surfaces where fleas may come into contact with the insecticide and receive a lethal concentration. For severe infestation, misting at outdoor spaces and yard is also necessary.

In flea extermination, dry gas treatment is usually employed—specifically, the use of CO2 technology. Invented in Japan, the MIRAKN® is a dry spray treatment that consists of a combination of carbon dioxide (CO2) and active ingredient. With efficient diffusion of active ingredient into the cracks and crevices of your home, it leaves no wet residues nor stains after the treatment. It is the ultimate solution for all crawling and flying pests that are infesting your home.

In summary, cleanliness must be maintained to prevent flea infestation. Fleas require food, water and harbourage to survive. Thus, potential food sources and harbourage areas should be eliminated thereby resulting in more effective treatment performance.

flea under the microscope

Do you know…

Once adult fleas emerge from their puparia, they have approximately 7 days to find a blood meal or they will die.

Female fleas can lay about 2,000 eggs over the course of their lives, but are incapable of laying eggs until after their first meal.

Once they have had their first blood meal, female fleas will lay their eggs within 35 to 48 hours.

Are you experiencing similar pest issue?

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