Stuart M Bennett 2003
Human Flea   Cat/Dog Flea   Rabbit Flea   Bird Flea   Mole Flea 
       Bed Bug     Body Louse    Crab Louse   Mites 

Well... let's get to it, and what better to start with than the good old flea......!!

So what is a parasite?..well it is something which invades our body space such as a fungus, mite or insect. The organism is dependant on our body to live out its own lifestyle without making a useful or adequate return to the host body...namely us..!

Fleas are wingless insects, and are of the Order Siphonoptera, strongly flattened from side to side, that's why you can't squash 'em between your fingers cos they're already squashed.  This tall thin body allows them to move very rapidly among hair or feathers, (all depends what you're wearing) and if all else fails their strong enlarged hind legs will propel them up to 30cm, (approximately 12 inches) this may not sound much, but it is more than 200 times the fleas own body length and is comparable to a man jumping 350 metres.

Each individual flea species is more or less dependant upon it's own host, but in many cases it can also suck the blood of other species.  Of the 50 - 60 different types found in Europe, about half occasionally bite humans, but only the human flea is able to breed on a diet of human blood only.

Flea eggs are smooth, oval and greyish white.  They are about 1/4mm long, so they can be seen by the naked eye.  Unlike louse eggs, they are not attached to hairs but are dropped on the ground and are therefore usually found in the nest or lair of the host ( better keep out of hubbies underpants draw..! ).  The female can lay several hundred eggs in her lifetime, in groups of 4 - 8.  At room temperature they will hatch in about 10 days.  The larva feed on various types of organic matter including the faeces of the adult fleas, which contains undigested blood.  They are white, blind and worm like and they have a row of bristles on each segment.  The duration of development depends largely upon temperature and may vary from 8 to 150 days.  When fully grown the larvae pupate in a cocoon spun from a salivary secretion.  The cocoons are normally covered with dust and are therefore difficult to discern.  The pupal stage may vary from one week to several months.  The adult fleas may remain in the cocoon for a long time - even for years - waiting until an animal comes near them.  Emergence from the cocoons is stimulated by vibration. If an infested house has stood empty for a long time the hungry fleas will start to emerge as soon as the new occupants move in....


Okay, so what can we do when we walk in the front door and all that can be seen are fleas bouncing on the carpet, yes it can be that bad, and yes I've seen it that bad.  In fact I went to one call where a young boy had about 6 or 7 on his tea shirt and the carpet was bouncing...!
(1) First of all get your pet ( or husband/wife...notice the equality ) to the vet, don't get rid of the pet otherwise the fleas will feed on you,
there are some good products on the market which the vet will administer, or you can do it yourself in some cases.
(2) Treat the area where your pet resides, remember what I said earlier on, the eggs drop off into the bedding.
So wash all the bedding at about 60C otherwise you won't kill the eggs. 
(3) If the fleas are in the carpet, then a general spray of the carpet with an insecticide will help to kill off the adults,
      however sprays don't kill the eggs, so the spray needs to be kept active until the eggs hatch.

(4) Eggs are usually laid at the carpet edges, so special attention is needed in these areas. 
Take up the carpet from the gripper and put insect powder along the gripper edges, then replace the carpet.
Don't forget to tell anybody who may come to work on the carpet or floorboards what you have done. (5) If the problem persists, then you will probably have to get someone like me in to carry out an in depth treatment.

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