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Why Is It So Hard To Get Rid Of Fleas?

Itís hard to get rid of fleas because they multiply fast and can go long periods of time without food. In the right environment, a flea can transform from egg to adult in less than 30 days. To completely get rid of fleas, you have to treat your home inside and out and treat your pets, preferably, all on the same day. Often, even with a three-sided attack, you may have to treat the areas two or three times because fleas in their different life stages can lie dormant and unaffected by pesticides. Your first step in ridding your home and property of fleas is to understand the life cycle of a flea.

Fleas have four life cycles and during these cycles the flea can lay dormant, waiting for the right time to make its metamorphosis to the next cycle. The life cycle includes egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The survival and lifespan of a flea relies heavily on its environment and its ability to adapt to the environment. The amount of time required to complete a life cycle depends on temperature, humidity, and the availability of food.

Adult female
Although she has mated, a female flea must have a blood meal before she can lay fertile eggs. Once she has the blood, she will lay a small number of eggs daily until she has laid 300 to 500 eggs. The female lays her eggs on your pet, then the egg falls off and drops onto the floor, in the petís bedding, on your furniture, in your carpet, or outside on the ground.

Flea eggs hatch from 1 to 6 days. Thus far, there is no treatment to stop the eggs from hatching, but there are products that can help stop the flea larvae from developing into reproducing adults. Vacuuming, dusting, and mopping regularly helps rid your home of flea eggs and larvae before they grow to biting adults.

Flea larvae can burrow in fabric, carpet, or dirt, but they usually stay near the surface where they can feed on adult flea feces. The primary food for flea larvae is the feces of the adult fleas and other materials such as flea eggs and pet dander. The larvae molt and mature in 7 to 15 days, depending on the environment. If the environment is dry, the larval stage can last over six months or until the environment is right for survival.

The mature larva spins a cocoon from its saliva and enters the pupa stage. After about a week, the adult flea is ready to emerge from the cocoon. The adult flea can lay and wait in the cocoon, waiting for a noise or vibration to indicate the presence of food.

Fleas are hard to kill because they can hide and can become dormant for long periods of time, instead of dying off when conditions are not right. Fleas, in their different stages, adapt to their environment in order to survive. For example, if the conditions are not right for the larvae and adult flea, then they stay in the same state or stage until the conditions are favorable. Adults will not emerge from the pupae state into adulthood until they hear vibrations or movement, detect levels of oxygen, or sense a warm-blooded animal by temperature. Until it knows the environment is right for survival, the flea can stay in the pupae stage for as long as 20 weeks. Once an adult flea has emerged, he can go up to two months in hot conditions or longer during humid or moderate temperatures without food. With adequate blood meals and the right humid temperature the adult flea can live from a month to a year.

Fleas are difficult to kill because for every adult flea you find you have hundreds of eggs, larvae, and pupae. If you treat your home for adult fleas only, then you will only have a re-infestation less than a month later when new eggs hatch and adults emerge from the pupa. There is always a group from each stage making its way to becoming an adult.

Treating only part of your flea problem will prove a waste of time and money. If both inside your home and outside in the yard are not treated, itís just a matter of time before the fleas are back and in large numbers again. If you treat only one stage of a fleaís life cycle, then too, itís just a matter of time before the fleas are back again, living and thriving inside your home. To fid out how to get rid of fleas in or around your home, please visit

About the Author: Dennise Brogdon is the managing editor of the Hughston Health Alert, a quarterly, patient-information newsletter, and she is an editorial assistant for the National Athletic Trainersí Associationís scientific journal, the Journal of Athletic Training. Dennise is a Web site copywriter and editor. She has experience writing and editing SEO copy and META tags, brochures, advertorials, video scripts, and other technical and promotional material, as well. Dennise earned a BA in English with professional writing as an emphasis at Columbus State University. She is a member of the American Medical Writers Association and the Georgia Writers Association.

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