Signs You May Have Fleas
It is difficult to detect fleas, with many not even realizing they have a problem until the pests have infested the home. Fleas are small, and their bite often looks like the bite of any other insect, so the best thing to do is be on the lookout for what is known as flea dirt. Flea dirt is actually the feces of the insect and, if you have a flea problem, is found on pets and the areas they lay. If you don’t know for sure that what you’ve found is flea dirt, sprinkle some on a wet paper towel, and if the dirt spreads out and dissolves into a reddish color in the water, you know you have flea dirt.
This isn’t to say you can’t see the fleas themselves. They are small, typically smaller than 1/8″, but can be seen on light colored hair or fabric. Fleas may also be seen jumping, moving through the fur of your pet, or on other surfaces. If you find that yourself and others in the house are frequently finding bug bites on your ankles, it is possible you have fleas. It is a good idea to keep an eye on your pets to see if they seem depressed, are losing hair, or scratch excessively, all of which are signs of fleas.
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Types of Fleas and Health Risks
There are actually thousands of different species of flea. Below are the most common types, with the name indicating the type of host the flea prefers. Please note, though, that you can find these pests on any animal, including people.
- Bird fleas
- Cat fleas
- Dog fleas
- Human fleas
- Oriental rat fleas
- Rodent fleas
It is important to note that fleas do present health risks. These pests can cause allergic reactions, anemia from blood loss, intense itching, and secondary infection from scratching the bites. Not to mention the facts that fleas may transmit diseases such as bubonic plague, cat scratch fever, tapeworms, and typhus.
Though not all fleas transmit disease, there is no way of knowing if the ones in your home are dangerous until it is too late. Always be sure to act on a flea problem as soon as possible and work to eradicate any eggs or larvae as well as adults.
Flea Treatment Process
Typically, getting rid of fleas is a multi-step process, as an infestation can easily spread around the home. The first step is an inspection to determine that you have fleas and not another pest, which generally comes at no cost to you. Once that has been decided, the first part of the treatment process is treating the animal that introduced the fleas into your home. This is usually done either with a chemical shampoo or flea bath that eliminates any fleas and larvae on your pet or with a medication administered by a vet. Always be sure to ask your vet which treatment is best for your pet and to keep your pet away from your home while the rest of the treatment plan is carried out.
Once you have rid your pet of fleas, it is time to clear out the house. Start by vacuuming, which some pest control companies recommend you do yourself, while others include it in their services. It is important to remember that you can’t just vacuum the carpet; you need to get in any cracks and crevices, as well as bedding, furniture, and any other area your pet frequently lays.
After the house has been vacuumed, a chemical treatment is used to kill the fleas. All areas of the home are treated, including basements and subfloors, to ensure that each and every egg, flea, and larvae is killed.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Flea Exterminator?
It is difficult to provide an exact cost for fleas extermination, as the degree of the infestation, your location, and the company you hire all affect the final cost. That being said, what follows is a general pricing guide to give you an idea of what you can expect to pay when hiring a flea exterminator.
- Comprehensive flea treatments (indoor and outdoor extermination) from a professional exterminator have an average cost between $75 and $100 for an initial service
- Follow-up flea treatments cost between $125 and $250.
- DIY remedies are also available, with packages of flea foggers costing between $10 and $25, flea insecticides costing between $15 and $50, and flea yard spray costing between $10 and $30.
The more intense the flea infestation, the more you’re going to spend to get rid of them. If the fleas have gotten into the walls or underneath the floorboards, that will cost extra, as will repairing the walls and floorboards. And if you need multiple follow-up visits, each of those have their own cost, though it is usually cheaper than the initial treatment.
Flea Extermination Follow-Up
The four stages of the flea life cycle are egg, larvae, pupa, and adult, with the duration of the cycle varying based on the availability of hosts and the environment. It may be as short as two weeks or as long as two years, making follow-up visits all the more necessary. Remember that the follow-up visit is absolutely crucial. You don’t want to think you’ve handled the problem only to find a whole new batch of them a few weeks later.