Fact File - Fleas

Fleas have lived alongside man for well over 300 million years. They have survived all natural disasters that the world has incurred over that time; they are a hardy insect, and a survivor. They can carry bacteria pathogens and disease. Fleas are a nuisance biting insect, generally leaving a cluster of reddish welts below the knee.
In New Zealand we generally encounter four species of fleas:

  • Cat Flea - Ctenocephalides felis
  • Dog Flea - Ctenocephalides canis
  • Human flea - Pulex irritans
  • Rat flea - Xenopsylla cheopis

One flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, which will lay dormant in your carpets and floor boards until the correct climate for hatching is reached. Flea eggs hatch into the second stage of the lifecycle, larvae, before entering the pupae stage. They can remain dormant for some time before being alerted to a potential blood host by vibration, temperature, or humidity. Following this, they finally emerge as young adult fleas. And so the life cycle continues, until it is broken with professional treatment.

How we treat fleas

All flea species require similar treatment, which is a residual pesticide surface treatment, along with an insect growth regulator (IGR). The technician will apply the product where flea activity is prevalent e.g. on carpet, mats and wooden flooring. In some cases treatment may also be required underneath the house; this is subject to accessibility. The treatment works on residual contact, which means the flea must come into contact with the pesticide and absorb the product. The product then kills the flea by affecting the nervous system. The pesticide cannot penetrate flea eggs, or pupae, so re-infestation may occur between 5 - 21 days after the initial treatment, however the residual product will still be active and the re-infestation will stop after a few days.