Shoo, Flea, Don't Bother Me: What to Know About Flea Extermination
If itchy bites are making you or your pet miserable, fleas could be to blame. These tiny pests can be a big nuisance.
Fleas are small insects that measure between 0.039 and 0.13 inches long. Although they can't fly, fleas can jump up to 200 times their body length, allowing them to move from host to host easily.
Fleas survive by feeding on the blood of animals, including humans. Some types only feed on specific animals, while others can infest multiple species. Flea bites can cause intense itching and skin irritation.
The most common way for fleas to get inside your house is via your pet. Pests such as rats and mice can also bring fleas into your home. It's unusual for humans to spread fleas, although they can occasionally travel on clothing or furniture.
As fleas are so small, they can also crawl through tiny gaps to infest your home. Therefore, any cracks in your floorboards, doors or windows increase the risk of a flea infestation.
Once they're inside, fleas lay eggs on your pet's fur and other soft surfaces. The eggs can then drop onto floors, carpets and furniture. A single adult female flea usually lays around 40 eggs daily, so an infestation can rapidly worsen.
There are various warning signs that you have a flea infestation on your hands. These include:
- A pet that's scratching or biting its fur more than usual
- Visible fleas on your pet, furniture, carpets or curtains
- Black or brown granules (flea droppings)
- Itchy bites on your own skin, often around the lower legs and ankles
Occasionally, flea bites can cause more serious issues. For example, a severe infestation can cause significant blood loss in your pet, leading to unusually pale gums. Your pet may also develop tapeworms at the same time as a flea infestation.
Flea extermination can be a lengthy process because these pests have long life cycles. Therefore, you should repeat flea treatments within five to ten days of the first treatment to disrupt the cycle. Thoroughly cleaning and vacuuming any soft surfaces, such as carpets and pet bedding, can help remove flea eggs before they hatch.
Washing your pet regularly can also help eliminate fleas because pet shampoo acts as an insecticide. Fleas tend to congregate around the face, neck and tail, so pay particular attention to these areas. Once you've washed your pet, comb them with a flea comb to remove any remaining adult fleas and eggs.
You'll also need to treat your home and yard. You can purchase flea control foggers, sprays and foams to treat your home yourself. These products contain insecticides that can kill fleas at every life cycle stage. However, it's often best to hire a specialist flea extermination company, as your contractor can help you select the best treatment methods for your home and advise on how to prevent the problem from recurring.
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According to Forbes, you should expect to pay between $75 and $400 for professional flea extermination services, with most homeowners spending around $270 on average. Most flea extermination companies charge between $75 and $200 for each follow-up treatment, so treating a severe infestation will cost more.
The method your contractor uses for flea control can also affect the price. Common treatment prices include:
- High-powered vacuuming: $80 to $140
- Pesticide foggers: $100 to $200
- Pesticide spray: $150 to $300
- Fumigation: $175 to $350
- Heat treatment: $300 to $500
DIY flea treatments are significantly cheaper but are often less effective than professional products and cover smaller areas. You may need multiple bottles to treat your entire house or yard. Expect to pay between $10 and $15 per unit for DIY flea foggers and between $5 and $15 per bottle for insecticide sprays.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the most effective way to prevent flea infestations is to vacuum your home frequently and wash soft items like cushion covers and bedding regularly. If you have pets, pay particular attention to places where they tend to sit or lie, such as their beds or favorite corners.
Treating your pet with a regular flea control treatment can help prevent the problem. These treatments can also help manage an existing infestation, as they will kill any fleas that feed on your pet.
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